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Sebastian Vachon-Desjardins, a Former NetWalker ransomware affiliate, was sentenced by the U.S justice on October 4, 2022. He will serve 20 years of prison and give a $21,5M forfeit.

The 35-year-old hacker was performing ransomware attacks while working as an IT staff member for the Canadian government.

The Netwalker Ransomware Gang

The NetWalker ransomware gang was launched in 2019 and they were among the first to use the double extortion ransomware method. They used to steal sensitive data from their victims and then threaten with data leak if the ransom was refused.

“NetWalker ransomware has targeted dozens of victims all over the world, including companies, municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services, school districts, colleges, and universities”, explains The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) in a statement.

But the larger part of NetWalker’s targets was located in the U.S., with a focus on the healthcare sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

In the middle of a pandemic, hospitals rather paid a ransom so they will not face a fatal disruption for their patients. Throughout that time, it is estimated that the gang extorted $60M from their victims, with the highest ransom of $3M.

The Shut Down

Sebastian Vachon-Desjardins was arrested by Canadian authorities on January 27, 2021, and the NetWalker gang shut down. He seems to be the leading affiliate, having over 150 versions of customized ransomware.

Authorities found and held over $740k in Canadian currency and 719 Bitcoin, appreciated at more than $21.8M at the time of seizure and $14,4 as of today.

“The defendant in this case used sophisticated technological means to exploit hundreds of victims in numerous countries at the height of an international health crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg in the DoJ statement.

Vachon-Desjardins was then extradited from Canada to the U.S.

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Author Profile

Andreea Chebac

Digital Content Creator

Andreea is a digital content creator within Heimdal® with a great belief in the educational power of content. A literature-born cybersecurity enthusiast (through all those SF novels…), she loves to bring her ONG, cultural, and media background to this job.

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