Canada Cracks Down on Ransomware: LockBit Hacker Sentenced

In Canada, a verdict was rendered against one of the administrators of the notorious LockBit group, which specializes in the dissemination of ransomware.

34-year-old Mikhail Vasiliev, holding citizenships in Canada and Russia, pleaded guilty to eight charges and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. Vasiliev was arrested about a year and a half ago, in October 2022, in Bradford, Canada, as part of an international operation involving authorities from Europe, the USA, and Canada.

Justice Michelle Fuerst branded Vasiliev a “cyberterrorist” and highlighted that his actions were motivated by personal financial interests. In addition to his prison sentence, the man was also ordered to pay $860,000 in restitution to the victims.

PGA ransomware

Vasiliev admitted to charges related to cyber extortion, illegal possession of weapons, and other crimes. His activities inflicted severe damage on three Canadian companies in 2021 and 2022. Moreover, the criminal was involved in LockBit’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also reported that Vasiliev agreed to extradition to the USA, where charges have been brought against him, including conspiracy to intentionally damage protected computers and transmitting ransom demands. If found guilty in the USA, he faces up to five years of imprisonment.

Vasiliev is one of two known members of LockBit currently in custody. In the USA, Ruslan Astamirov also awaits trial, accused of using LockBit against victims in Florida, Kenya, France, and Japan.

The past few months have been marked by an international fight against LockBit. In February, British authorities managed to dismantle the group’s infrastructure and identify numerous affiliated individuals. Two members of the group were arrested in Ukraine and Poland, although their identities have not yet been disclosed.

Despite authorities’ attempts to cease the group’s operations, LockBit’s leadership mocks the efforts of the special services and claims to grow stronger with each blow from law enforcement.

To this day, LockBit remains one of the most active ransomware operations, with thousands of government institutions, businesses, and organizations worldwide falling victim.

The group began its activities in 2019, offering its software as a service. According to Recorded Future, these extortionists are responsible for nearly 2,300 attacks, with total ransoms exceeding $120 million.