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Canadian Man Admits To Hacking Spree With Russian Cybergang.

The NetWalker group, with some 100 members, operated a ransomware-as-a-service criminal business, offering its malicious software and an extortion website to hacker affiliates. (illustrative photo)

The NetWalker group, with some 100 members, operated a ransomware-as-a-service criminal business, offering its malicious software and an extortion website to hacker affiliates. (illustrative photo)

A former Canadian government IT worker has admitted to taking part in a hacking spree with a Russian cybercrime group.

Media reports quoted U.S. court documents on June 29 as saying that Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins agreed to plead guilty in a Florida court last month, admitting that he was affiliated with the NetWalker ransomware crew that has attacked organizations, businesses, official entities, schools, and hospitals in Canada, the United States, and other countries.
The NetWalker group, with some 100 members, operated a ransomware-as-a-service criminal business, offering its malicious software and an extortion website to hacker affiliates. Analysts say the leaders of the group, who are still at large, communicate in Russian online and ensure that their malware does not infect Russian computer systems, or those of former Soviet republics. Vachon-Desjardins was arrested by Canadian police in January 2021. Police seized dozens of computers and storage devices, 719 Bitcoin worth approximately $27 million, and 790,000 Canadian dollars ($613,500) in cash during his arrest. He was extradited to Florida in March after being sentenced to seven years in prison in Canada on charges of mischief in relation to computer data, extortion, unauthorized use of a computer, and participating in a criminal organization. According to Florida court documents, Vachon-Desjardins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit computer fraud and one count of transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer. Vachon-Desjardins agreed to forfeit about $21.5 million from the proceeds of the crimes, along with 27.65 Bitcoins, and cooperate with other investigations as part of a plea agreement where he accepted that he "was one of the most prolific NetWalker ransomware affiliates." He will be sentenced at a later date and could face 10 years in prison, the court documents said.

With reporting by the BBC and CBC

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