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FBI shuts down cybercriminal website linked to ransomware attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WISH) — The FBI and the Department of Justice announced they seized the site of the ransomware group Hive.

Ransomware is where all of the data on your computer is held hostage by criminals in exchange for a fee.

The FBI said the Hive group extorted over $100 million from companies, hospitals, and school districts in the last few years alone.

“It’s a big problem,” said Scott Shackelford, who researches cyber security at Indiana University.

He said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many companies in Indiana were hit by Hive in the past few years because companies aren’t required to disclose if they were victims of ransomware.

Previously, I-Team 8 has reported cyber attacks on an Indiana Power company and a hospital in Indiana. We don’t know if Hive was responsible.

Shackelford says the investigation by the FBI that shut the group down is a big deal.

“It will definitely disrupt the group and the players there and it’s a real testament to the FBI. It is not an easy thing to do,” he said.

FBI director Christopher Wray said in a news conference Hive was not just a group of tech-savvy hackers. They were doing the leg work to create ransomware to sell for others to use to attack companies.

“Essentially they’re marketing their cyber expertise to a whole lot of less sophisticated, but now suddenly dangerous cyber criminals and that’s why this is so significant,” Wray said.

The FBI said Hive was one of the five largest and most dangerous ransomware groups in the world. That means there are still other groups just like them out there.

“Unfortunately this can be a game of global whack-a-mole,” Shackelford said.

The FBI said they infiltrated the group and got warrants to seize Hive’s servers in California to shut it down, but they did not announce any arrests yet.

“Anybody involved with Hive should be concerned, because this investigation is very much still ongoing,” Wray said.

Shackelford told I-Team 8 convictions in cases like this can be hard because the criminals could be anywhere around the globe, and extradition can take a long time to get the criminals here to the US to face charges.