Crackdown on hacking | WORLD
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Crackdown on hacking

TECHNOLOGY | Police operation targets a major ransomware group

ANP / Alamy

Crackdown on hacking
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THE ONLINE ransomware group LockBit is responsible for hacking into the computer systems of thousands of hospitals, businesses, schools, and governments around the world and extorting millions of dollars. Now, an international police operation says it has succeeded in disrupting the hacking network’s criminal activities.

On Feb. 20, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Britain’s National Crime Agency, and other law enforcement officials said they had infiltrated the LockBit syndicate and taken its ­systems offline. “We have hacked the hackers,” NCA Director General Graeme Biggar said in a statement, adding that officials had “taken control of their infrastructure, seized their source code, and obtained keys that will help victims decrypt their systems.”

Ransomware works by remotely taking over and locking the internal information systems used by businesses or other entities. In order to retrieve their private data, companies often have to pay hackers a ransom. Authorities say LockBit had operated for four years and collected more than $120 million in ransom.

As part of their crackdown, law enforcement agents seized control of more than two dozen servers, froze more than 200 cryptocurrency accounts linked to LockBit, and arrested two people in Poland and Ukraine. The Justice Department also unsealed an indictment charging two Russian nationals with deploying LockBit malware against victims in the United States.

Investigators said the digital “keys” they obtained enabled them to unlock the hacked computer systems. The NCA and the FBI also developed decryption tools to help victims restore their systems and set up a program to help them regain access to their information.

Following the investigation, the Justice Department on Feb. 21 said it would offer rewards totaling up to $15 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual who participated in the group.

Pavlo Gonchar/Sipa USA via AP

Sports streaming stranglehold?

The streaming service FuboTV is challenging a planned partnership between Fox, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery that would create a joint sports streaming platform. Fubo filed an antitrust lawsuit on Feb. 20 against the companies, alleging that they effectively blocked the smaller platform from offering more sports content.

Fubo, which licenses content from the three major media companies, claims their expensive bundling terms have long forced it to carry non-sports channels its customers don’t want. Its lawsuit claims the partnership between the networks would give them less incentive to make their channels available on FuboTV.

Fubo’s lawsuit seeks an injunction against the joint venture, a jury trial, and punitive damages. Fox, Disney (which owns ESPN), and Warner Bros. Discovery did not immediately comment on the lawsuit. —L.C.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.


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