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Canadian NetWalker Ransomware Operator Extradited to U.S.

A former Canadian government employee has been extradited to the United States to face charges related to dozens of NetWalker ransomware attacks.

A former Canadian government employee has been extradited to the United States to face charges related to dozens of NetWalker ransomware attacks.

Charges against the individual – Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 34, of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada – were announced last year, when law enforcement authorities in the U.S. and Europe seized the dark web sites used in the NetWalker ransomware operations.

Offered under the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) business model, NetWalker – also known as Malito – emerged in 2019 and has been involved in a variety of high-profile attacks, including ones targeting education, government, health, and public transportation organizations.

The U.S. Department of Justice said that dozens of entities worldwide were hit by NetWalker, which “specifically targeted the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of the global crisis to extort victims.”

According to court documents, Vachon-Desjardins was involved in the NetWalker operations between April and December 2020.

He was arrested on January 27, 2021. During the search of Vachon-Desjardins’s home in Gatineau, Canadian law enforcement officers discovered and seized 719 Bitcoin – currently valued at roughly $28 million – and $790,000 in Canadian currency.

The investigators also seized over 20 terabytes of data from Vachon-Desjardins’s computers, which led to the identification of 17 compromised Canadian companies.

On January 31, during a video hearing in a Canadian court, the defendant pleaded guilty to three of the charges brought against him. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered the forfeiture of most of the seized Bitcoin, computers, and cash, and the restitution of over $2.6 million in Canadian currency.

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Related: NetWalker Ransomware’s Sites Seized by Law Enforcement

Related: FBI Warns of NetWalker Ransomware Targeting Businesses

Related: Alleged Ukrainian Hacker in US Court After Extradition From Poland

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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