Law enforcement officials from Ukraine, France and the U.S. this month cracked down on the Egregor ransomware gang, shutting down its leak website, seizing computers and arresting individuals who are allegedly linked to ransomware attacks that netted $80 million in illicit profits from more than 150 victimized companies.

Early reports indicated that the apprehended suspects are affiliates who allegedly purchased access to the Egregor ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) on the dark web, agreeing to share any profits from their attacks with the malware’s main operators and distributors. However, a Feb. 17 press release from the Security Service of Ukraine suggests that at least one ringleader may also have been rounded up. The Google translation leaves room for interpretation, but the release states that “the members of the specified hacker group, including the organizer, were informed about the suspicion of committing criminal offenses.”

While landing the main culprits behind Egregor would constitute a major coup, often times malware ringleaders are cloistered away in countries where they cannot be touched or extradited and cooperation is scarce. That’s why – regardless of whether or not Egregor’s main developers were successfully targeted by law enforcement – the strategy of also going after affiliates represents an intriguing strategy.

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