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Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on the Disruption of Hive Ransomware Variant


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

Over the last two years, the Attorney General and I have made clear that the department will use all the tools at its disposal, and work with partners to attack the ransomware threat from every angle.

The department’s agents, prosecutors, and trial attorneys have partnered with law enforcement allies across the globe:

  • To track ransom payments through the block chain and seize them back for victims;
  • To dismantle ransomware networks;
  • To warn targets of exigent ransomware threats to prevent attacks;
  • And to disrupt the criminal ecosystem that enables the targeting of innocent victims.

We’ve made it clear that we will strike back against cyber crime using any means possible — today’s action reflects that strategy.

We have also pledged to place victims at the center of our mission and prioritize prevention.

As you’ll hear the FBI Director explain in greater detail, for the past several months the FBI and our prosecutors have been inside the network of one of the world’s most prolific ransomware variants: Hive.

The FBI has labeled Hive a top 5 ransomware threat — both for its technical sophistication and for the harm it can inflict on victims.

But, for all the group’s technical prowess, it could not outfox our prosecutors, our agents, and our international law enforcement coalition.

Unbeknownst to HIVE, in a 21st century cyber stakeout, our investigative team lawfully infiltrated Hive’s network and hid there for months — repeatedly swiping decryption keys and passing them to victims to free them from ransomware.

For months, we helped victims defeat their attackers and deprived the Hive network of extortion profits.

Simply put, using lawful means, we hacked the hackers.

We turned the tables on Hive and busted their business model, saving potential victims approximately $130 million dollars in ransomware payments.

Successful actions like the one we announce today require the creative use of civil and criminal authorities, and they require partnerships – among law enforcement to be sure – but also with victims.

Our actions in this investigation should speak clearly to those victims: it pays to come forward, and work with us.

We are all in this together – we need your help to stop cybercriminals, to prevent future victims. In exchange, we pledge our tireless efforts to help you protect your systems and prevent or recover losses.

When a victim steps forward it can make all the difference in recovering stolen funds or obtaining decryptor keys.

Whether you own a small business, run a Fortune 500 company, oversee a school district, or manage a hospital — we can work with you to counter ransomware, mitigate harm, prevent losses, and strike back at the bad guys.

Although today’s announcement marks an important success in the international fight against ransomware, we will not rest when it comes to Hive and its affiliates.

If you target victims here in the United States, the Department of Justice will target you.

And if you are a victim, know that the Department of Justice and the FBI are on the job, and we’ll be fighting for you and alongside you throughout your time of crisis.

I’ll now turn the podium over to Director Wray.

Updated January 26, 2023