“Operation of the Century”… Washington shuts down a major piracy and “ransom” group.

The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday it has shut down the ‘Hive’ hacker group that extorted more than 1,500 companies in around the world and raised nearly $100 million in ransom.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said US authorities, in cooperation with Germany and the Netherlands, managed to control the servers of the website “Hive” after being hacked for about seven months.

The website hack saved hundreds of companies from paying $130 million in ransom payments after Hive froze their electronic systems and stole their data.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco described the Hive takeover as “a 21st century deal,” adding, “We hacked the hackers.”

The “Hive” group was active in providing services for ransomware, which means that anyone could hire the site’s services to break into and encrypt electronic companies’ systems and ask their owners to pay money to free them again. The proceeds of extortion operations are shared between the site and the perpetrators of the operation.

Since Hive first appeared in 2021, more than 1,500 companies and institutions have been hacked and forced to pay ransoms, often in cryptocurrencies.

Victims include India’s Tata Power, German retail giant Media Markt, Costa Rica’s public health service, Indonesia’s state-owned gas company and several US hospitals, according to cybersecurity consultants.

At dawn on Thursday, the “Hive” website on the dark web was suspended and on home site page has appeared a sentence either in english that in Russian who claimed it had been taken over by the Federal Bureau of United States investigation.

US officials said that by breaking into the dark web of Hive and collecting information, the judicial authorities have been in able to obtain the digital keys necessary to decrypt the victims’ frozen data in so they didn’t have to pay Hive.

“For months, we have been helping victims defeat their attackers and depriving the Hive network of extortion profits,” Monaco said.

US authorities have not determined who is behind Hive and whether they will make any arrests, saying it is in underway an investigation. The Federal Bureau contributed to the operation of Investigation of the United States, the German Police Station in Reutlingen, the German Federal Criminal Police, the Dutch High-Tech National Criminal Unit and Europol.

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