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Tech

FBI Pursuing Scattered Spider Hackers, Says Official

The FBI is actively pursuing legal actions against the notorious Scattered Spider criminal gang, primarily operating in the United States and Western countries, responsible for infiltrating numerous American organizations, according to a senior official.

This group gained widespread attention after orchestrating high-profile cyberattacks on prominent entities such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment last year. Employing sophisticated tactics, they infiltrated these companies’ systems, holding them hostage and demanding substantial ransom payments. With targets spanning various sectors including health, telecommunications, and finance, their reign of cybercrime has exerted significant pressure on law enforcement agencies to neutralize their operations.

Brett Leatherman, the FBI’s cyber deputy assistant director, revealed plans to pursue criminal charges against individuals associated with the Scattered Spider gang, citing violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He emphasized the unique nature of this alliance, noting the rare collaboration between hackers from Western nations and seasoned cybercriminals from Eastern Europe, a departure from conventional hacker dynamics.

Security analysts have monitored the activities of Scattered Spider since at least 2022, attributing to them a level of aggression surpassing other cybercrime syndicates. Their modus operandi involves exploiting the identities of IT helpdesk personnel to infiltrate corporate networks, demonstrating an advanced level of proficiency in cyber warfare. Notably, Caesars Entertainment reportedly paid a ransom of approximately $15 million to regain control of its systems following a Scattered Spider attack.

In communications with their victims, the gang has resorted to threats of physical violence, instigating alarm among cybersecurity researchers. Despite a temporary lull in activity observed in January, recent indicators suggest a resurgence in their operations, with over 100 organizations targeted in the span of two years. The gang’s proficiency in phishing techniques has enabled them to compromise numerous individuals regularly.

Criticism has mounted regarding the lack of arrests despite the gang’s presence in Western countries. Leatherman acknowledged the challenge but affirmed ongoing collaborative efforts with private security firms to gather evidence for legal prosecution. He stressed the importance of disrupting the group’s activities, emphasizing the FBI’s commitment to meeting the requisite burden of proof for law enforcement operations.

While one arrest, that of 19-year-old Noah Urban from Florida, has been made, Leatherman hinted at forthcoming arrests, noting the potential involvement of juvenile members. Leveraging state and local laws, the FBI aims to hold accountable all perpetrators associated with Scattered Spider, underscoring the effectiveness of such legal mechanisms in combating cybercrime.

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