FBI Hacks Back Hive Ransomware Gang’s Infrastructure – Website Seized

As a result of an international law enforcement operation, the sites utilized by the Hive ransomware operation for both payments and data leaks on the Tor network were successfully taken over, following the FBI’s infiltration of the group’s infrastructure in July.

An international law enforcement operation, led by the US Department of Justice and Europol, covertly infiltrated the infrastructure of the Hive ransomware gang in July 2022. The operation had been under surveillance for six months prior to the announcement.

About EUR 120 Million Saved

Through this operation, the law enforcement agencies were able to gain insight into planned attacks and issue warnings to potential targets, as well as they also obtained and provided decryption keys to the victims. 

This prevented an estimated $130 million or the equivalent of about EUR 120 million in ransom payments from being made. Following the infiltration of Hive’s network in July 2022, the FBI has been able to supply over 300 decryption keys to individuals and organizations affected by the ransomware attacks.

There was also an additional 1,000 decryption keys distributed by the FBI to the previous victims of the Hive infection.

Access to two dedicated servers and one virtual private server at a hosting provider in California was obtained by the FBI. While the most striking thing is that these servers were found to be leased under email addresses linked to members of the Hive group.

Two backup dedicated servers hosted in the Netherlands were also accessed by Dutch police in a coordinated action. Since June 2021, HIVE associates have impacted over 1,500 companies in over 80 countries worldwide, resulting in almost EUR 100 million in ransom payments lost by the victims.

Cyberattacks were conducted by affiliates, but developers were responsible for creating, maintaining, and updating the HIVE ransomware.

A seizure notice is now appearing on the ransomware gang’s Tor website in addition to a list of other countries involved in the operation. Here below we have mentioned the names of the countries:-

  • Germany
  • Canda
  • France
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • The United Kingdom

A unique approach was taken by the law enforcement agencies in this operation, as the seizure message was presented in the form of an animated GIF which alternates between displaying a message in English and Russian. 

In an attempt to warn other ransomware gangs about the operation of the malware, this message was created. Europol played a key role in the operation by facilitating the sharing of information and coordinating the effort.

Furthermore, the organization also provided funding for operational meetings which were held in the Netherlands and Portugal.

Law Enforcement Authorities Involved

Here below we have mentioned all the law enforcement agencies that are involved in this operation:-

  • Canada – Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) & Peel Regional Police
  • France: National Police (Police Nationale)
  • Germany: Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) and Police Headquarters Reutlingen – CID Esslingen (Polizei BW)
  • Ireland: National Police (An Garda Síochána)
  • Lithuania: Criminal Police Bureau (Kriminalinės Policijos Biuras)
  • Netherlands – National Police (Politie)
  • Norway: National Police (Politiet)
  • Portugal: Judicial Police (Polícia Judiciária)
  • Romania: Romanian Police (Poliția Română – DCCO)
  • Spain: Spanish Police (Policía Nacional)
  • Sweden: Swedish Police (Polisen)
  • United Kingdom – National Crime Agency
  • USA – United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations

Europol, based in The Hague, Netherlands, is a vital asset for the 27 EU Member States in their efforts to combat terrorism, cybercrime, and other forms of serious and organized crime.

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