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Canadian admits to hacking spree with Russian cyber-gang

Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins SelfieTwitter

An ex-Canadian authorities IT employee has admitted to being a high-level hacker with a Russian cyber-crime group.

Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, from Quebec, Canada, has agreed to plead responsible in a Florida courtroom.

The 34-year-old was affiliated to the NetWalker ransomware crew, which has attacked corporations, municipalities, hospitals, colleges and universities.

When he was arrested, police found he was in possession of $27m (£22.2m) in Bitcoin.

The case represents a uncommon instance of a profitable arrest and prosecution of a hacker working for a Russia-based cyber-crime group.

US courtroom paperwork state that the Canadian was considered one of NetWalker’s most prolific associates.

Police Cash

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Evidence gathered by police reveals he went on a hacking spree between April and December 2020, attacking 17 Canadian corporations and lots of others world wide.

NetWalker operated a ransomware-as-a-service felony enterprise, providing its malicious software program and extortion web site to hacker associates.

The leaders, who’re nonetheless at massive, talk in Russian on-line and be certain that their malware doesn’t infect Russian laptop methods, or these of former Soviet nations which are actually members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Affiliates like Mr Vachon-Desjardins are liable for figuring out and attacking high-value victims with the ransomware.

NetWalker builders and associates cut up the ransom or, if the sufferer refuses to pay, a share of the cash constituted of promoting the stolen knowledge.

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Mr Vachon-Desjardins was arrested in Canada in January 2021 and subsequently extradited following a US investigation into the cyber-crime group, which dismantled its on-line operation and uncovered a database of affiliate particulars.

It revealed the NetWalker group had roughly 100 members, together with associates, who extorted at the least $40m from victims.

In one incident, the group extorted $1.14m from a US college making an attempt to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Mr Vachon-Desjardins Topless

A NetWalker assault on the Düsseldorf University Clinic in September 2020 can also be believed to have contributed to the dying of a affected person who needed to be relocated to a different hospital for remedy.

In every incident the victims would discover a be aware on their computer systems studying: “Hi! Your recordsdata are encrypted by NetWalker.

“Our encryption algorithms are very robust and your recordsdata are very nicely protected, the one approach to get your recordsdata again is to co-operate with us and get the decrypter program. For us that is simply enterprise.”

Computers On A Desk

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Police seized dozens of computers and storage devices, 719 Bitcoin worth approximately C$35m ($27m, £22m) and C$790,000 in cash from Mr Vachon-Desjardins’ house.

The hacker is a former IT consultant for Canada’s public works and government services department.

On his LinkedIn profile, he says he worked for various government departments from 2010 onwards, and cites expertise in responding to cyber-security incidents.

He is pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to commit computer fraud, and one count of transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer.

The court has agreed not to proceed with two other charges.

He will be sentenced at a later date, and could face 10 years in prison.

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