FBI Kicks Hackers In The Teeth With Free 7,000 Ransomware Key Giveaway

source: Forbes.com (contributed by FAN, Steve Page  |  image: fbi.gov


The FBI is encouraging anyone who has been a victim of the LockBit ransomware group and its many affiliates to contact them for a free decryption key that could help restore their data. Bryan Vorndran, FBI Cyber Division assistant director, has urged potential victims to contact the Bureau after confirming that it is in possession of more than 7,000 decryption keys from the ransomware hackers.

Speaking at the Boston Conference on Cyber Security on June 5, Vorndran revealed that as part of the ongoing disruption of LockBit, it has amassed a vast collection of ransomware decryption keys. “We are reaching out to known LockBit victims and encouraging anyone who suspects they were a victim to visit our Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov,” Vorndran said.

FBI Continues To Disrupt The World’s Most Prolific Ransomware Gang

LockBit has long been one of the most prolific ransomware groups, responsible for at least 1,800 successful attacks in the U.S. alone, according to the FBI. A joint law enforcement operation in February 2024 saw the FBI, along with the U.K. National Crime Agency and Europol, take control of LockBit infrastructure as part of an ongoing plan to disrupt its activity. Operation Cronos even saw law enforcement trolling the cybercrime group by replacing website information with a $10 million bounty on the group’s leader.

A Kick In The Teeth For LockBit

Raj Samani, chief scientist at cybersecurity specialist Rapid7, said the collection and release of the decryption keys was “another kick in the teeth for the ransomware group and a great win for law enforcement.”

LockBit is not going down without a fight, however, and has been heavily engaged in a public relations damage control exercise since the February takedown as a show of strength in order to try and maintain the confidence of the affiliates it relies upon to hack into networks and deploy the ransomware malware. “Such announcements by the FBI damages this confidence,” Samani said, “and hopefully we’ll soon see the end of the LockBit ransomware group.”