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Hive ransomware disrupted after FBI hacks gang’s systems

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Hive ransomware

The Hive ransomware operation’s Tor payment and data leak sites were seized as part of an international law enforcement operation after the FBI infiltrated the gang’s infrastructure last July.

Today, the US Department of Justice and Europol announced that an international law enforcement operation secretly infiltrated the Hive ransomware gang’s infrastructure in July 2022, when they secretly began monitoring the operation for five months.

This operation allowed them to learn about attacks before they occurred and warn targets, and to obtain and distribute decryption keys to victims, preventing approximately $130 million in ransom payments.

“Since late July 2022, the FBI has penetrated Hive’s computer networks, captured its decryption keys, and offered them to victims worldwide, preventing victims from having to pay $130 million in ransom demanded,” the Justice Department said.

“Since infiltrating Hive’s network in July 2022, the FBI has provided over 300 decryption keys to Hive victims who were under attack. In addition, the FBI distributed over 1,000 additional decryption keys to previous Hive victims.

The ransomware gang’s Tor web sites now display a seizure notice listing a a wide range of other countries involved in the law enforcement operation, including Germany, Canda, France, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Unlike previous seizure messages used by law enforcement, this image is an animated GIF rotating between a message in English and Russian, warning other ransomware gangs about the operation.

Hive ransomware Tor website seizure notice
Hive ransomware Tor website seizure notice

“This hidden site has been seized. The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized this site as part of a coordinated law enforcement action taken against Hive Ransomware,” reads the seizure notice.

“This action has been taken in coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice with substantial assistance from Europol.”

Who is Hive ransomware?

The Hive cybercriminal gang is run as a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation that launched in June 2021. They are known to breach organizations through phishing campaigns, exploiting vulnerabilities in internet-exposed devices, and through purchased credentials.

Once they gain access to a corporate network, the threat actors spread laterally to other devices while stealing unencrypted data to be used in double-extortion demands.

When they gain admin access to a Windows domain controller, they deploy their ransomware throughout the network to encrypt all devices.

Unlike many ransomware operations that claim to avoid emergency services and healthcare entities, Hive is not particular about who they target.

The ransomware group is responsible for many victims, including attacks on the non-profit Memorial Health Systemretail giant MediaMarktBell Technical Solutions (BTS), and Tata Power, the New York Racing Association.

In November 2022, the FBI stated that the ransomware operation generated approximately $100 million from over a 1,500 companies since June 2021.

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