FBI dismantles Hive malware network, saves $130 million in ransom payments

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has taken down one of the most prolific malware networks in the world. The law enforcement agency announced that it infiltrated the Hive malware gang’s network months ago and has been helping victims while working on dismantling it from the inside.

Hive has targeted more than 1,500 victims globally, beginning operations in June 2021. Last November, the FBI revealed that the gang had received over $100 million from its victims. It has continuously targeted institutions such as hospitals in Costa Rica, where it disrupted critical services, schools in Illinois, power services in India, and emergency services in New York.

In a statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau gained clandestine access to Hive’s control panel in July last year.

“Since then, for the past seven months, we’ve been able to exploit that access to help victims while keeping Hive in the dark, using that access to identify Hive’s victims and to offer over 1,300 victims around the world keys to decrypt their infected networks, preventing at least $130 million in ransom payments, cutting off the gas that was fueling Hive’s fire,” he stated.

In one case, the bureau identified the initial stages of an attack on a university, notified the school, and gave it the information it needed to kick Hive off its systems and beef up its security.

After months of access to the control panel, the FBI finally dismantled the Hive network.

“The coordinated disruption of Hive’s computer networks, following months of decrypting victims around the world, shows what we can accomplish by combining a relentless search for useful technical information to share with victims with investigation aimed at developing operations that hit our adversaries hard,” Wray stated.

While it was able to help hundreds of victims during the seven months it had access to Hive’s system, the FBI noted that only 20% of the victims reported the attacks to law enforcement agencies.

“Here, fortunately, we were still able to identify and help many victims who didn’t report in. But that is not always the case. When victims report attacks to us, we can help them—and others, too,” Wray noted.

Malware continues to be one of the biggest threats today as the world goes digital. However, as CoinGeek recently reported, ransomware revenue dipped 40% in 2022, as per an analysis by Chainalysis. The company attributed the dip to victims’ refusal to pay the ransom and coordinated regulatory efforts.

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