Canadian hacker sentenced to 20 years in US prison for ransomware scheme

Oct 5 2022, 2:58 pm

A former Canadian government worker has been sentenced to 20 years in US prison for his role in ransomware hacker attacks.

Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, a 35-year-old man from Gatineau, Quebec, was sentenced in Tampa Bay on Tuesday after pleading guilty over the summer to participating in a global ransomware scheme.

According to online court documents, Vachon-Desjardins was prolifically involved with Netwalker, a Russian ransomware gang that hacked into computer systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group would hack into the worldwide computer systems of healthcare agencies, schools, and companies and demand ransom payments in exchange for encrypted data. If their demands weren’t met, data would be posted on the Netwalker blog on the dark web.

The court documents say more than $40 million was collected in random payments — one-third of which were paid out in relation to attacks that Vachon-Desjardins was part of.

The US Department of Justice says Vachon-Desjardins was extradited to the US in March 2022 after being involved in the Netwalker ransomware attacks from April to December 2020.

After being arrested, American authorities searched the Quebecer’s home and seized 719 Bitcoin — a $21 million value — and $790,000 in Canadian cash.

Vachon-Desjardins formerly worked in the information technology sector for the Canadian federal government. The judge described his four counts as “digital extortion” using “non-physical force.”

The judge says that hackers who perpetrate ransomware schemes need to “expect severe consequences.”

Ty JadahTy Jadah

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