Cybercrime Takedown Brings New Violent Cybergangs

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Global law enforcement operations have made a major crackdown on cybergangs this past year. however, it seems that those groups are coming back with new and improved tactics.

One of the groups being taken down by law enforcement was the Russian-affiliated LockBit, one of the major developers of malicious software allowing criminals to lock victims out of their networks, steal their data, and demand a ransom for its return. The gang targeted over 2,000 victims and received more than $120 million in ransom payments since it formed four years ago, leading to major disruption of governments, businesses, and public services like hospitals and critical infrastructure.

According to Techxplore, though the network’s services had effectively been taken over, authorities warn that the software is still out there, and experts told AFP news that ransomware attacks are likely to rebound quickly, possibly in the next few months.

Despite the “cleanups” of gangs in the ransomware scene, cybersecurity experts reveal that a number of new groups have since appeared and started to organize themselves. Allan Liska of US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future stated: “There’s about a dozen of them that have popped up since the LockBit takedown, which is a higher number than we’ve ever seen in that short period of time.” He further pointed out some worrying trends emerging with some of the new groups, who appear to consider threats of physical violence rather than just online intimidation.

Liska further points out that gangs would already have stolen a bunch of personal information, including the residential addresses of senior executives. “And so if you’re not getting anywhere in your negotiations, that’s something you can threaten… We’re going to do something in the real world to hurt you or hurt your family.” He calls this “violence as a service”.