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(Reuters) — The FBI revealed Thursday it had secretly hacked and disrupted a prolific ransomware gang called Hive, a maneuver that allowed the bureau to thwart the group from collecting more than $130 million in ransomware demands from more than 300 victims.
At a news conference, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco said government hackers broke into Hive's network and put the gang under surveillance, surreptitiously stealing the digital keys the group used to unlock victim organizations’ data.
They were then able to alert victims in advance so they could take steps to protect their systems before Hive demanded the payments.
“Using lawful means, we hacked the hackers,” Ms. Monaco told reporters. “We turned the tables on Hive.”
News of the takedown first leaked Thursday morning when Hive's website was replaced with a flashing message that said: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized this site as part of coordinated law enforcement action taken against Hive Ransomware.”
Hive's servers were also seized by the German Federal Criminal Police and the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit.