Canadian sentenced in NetWalker ransomware attacks

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday sentenced a Canadian national to 20 years in prison and ordered him to forfeit more than $21 million for his role in NetWalker ransomware attacks.

The DOJ said the defendant, Sebastian Vachon-Desjardins, participated in a sophisticated form of ransomware known as NetWalker, which has targeted dozens of victims across the world, including companies, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services and schools. 

“The defendant identified and attacked high-value ransomware victims and profited from the chaos caused by encrypting and stealing the victims’ data,” said Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division.

DOJ officials also said that the NetWalker ransomware attacks specifically targeted the health care sector to extort victims during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The defendant in this case used sophisticated technological means to exploit hundreds of victims in numerous countries at the height of an international health crisis,” said Roger Handberg, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida. 

Vachon-Desjardins was arrested in Canada in January 2021 and was then extradited to the U.S. to face the charges. 

This is the latest DOJ enforcement action this year intended to crack down on illegal cyber activities. 

In September, the department unsealed an indictment of three Iranian nationals accused to have hacked hundreds of computer systems of organizations in the U.S. and around the world. 

DOJ officials said the defendants illegally exfiltrated data from the organizations’ computer systems and attempted to extort money from them.

In April, the agency seized RaidForums, a popular hacking forum where cybercriminals bought and sold stolen data that contained personal and financial information.

Tags Department of Justice NetWalker Ransomware
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