Ukrainian national charged over New Zealand ransomware attacks

A Ukrainian national has been charged over ransomware attacks that took down the computer networks of hundreds of New Zealand businesses.

Yaroslav Vasinskyi, 22, is linked to a Russian-based ransomware group and is believed to be responsible for attacks against software company Kaseya in July 2021.

Kaseya provides technology management software for businesses and is widely used throughout New Zealand.

The worldwide success of ransomware has destroyed the computer systems of many educators, including St Peter’s School in Cambridge.

During the attack, the Ministry of Education said it was aware of 11 schools that had been hit.

Tech company Datacom also said it was aware of 200 companies that had been attacked and their files encrypted.

Vasinskyi is facing a lawsuit in the United States, with the Justice Department alleging he was responsible for deploying malicious code into Kaseya’s system.

The code would encrypt data on the victim’s computers and hold it for a ransom that could only be paid via a “virtual currency address”.

If they didn’t pay the fee, Vasinskyi would publish the data online or claim it was sold to a third party.

Vasinskyi is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and related activities in connection with computers, damage to protected computers and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted on all counts, he faces a total sentence of 115 years in prison.

He was arrested in Poland, but has since been extradited to Dallas, Texas, where he will likely face trial.

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