Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Ransomware

LockBitSupp's Identity Revealed: Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev

Russian National Faces US Criminal Indictment, Sanctions
LockBitSupp's Identity Revealed: Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev
A wanted posted for Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev, aka LockBitSupp. (Image: U.S. government)

The Russian national known as LockBitSupp, head of ransomware-as-a-service group LockBit, came under indictment Tuesday in U.S. federal court and faces sanctions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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Prosecutors say LockBitSupp's real identity - a closely guarded secret for which he offered a $1 million bounty as inducement not to inform police - is Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev.

Khoroshev, 31, now faces 26 criminal charges in New Jersey federal court, along with a prohibition preventing victims from entering into financial dealings with him. The U.S. Department of State has offered up to $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

The United Kingdom and Australia also announced sanctions.

Given his home address in the western Russian city of Voronezh - the Kremlin has a policy against extraditing Russian nationals - it's highly unlikely Khoroshev will ever see the inside of a U.S. courtroom. But the indictment and sanctions have goals beyond prosecution, said Jon DiMaggio, a chief security strategist at Analyst1 who's maintained contact with LockBitSupp.

The publicity, the real name now exposed to the world and the move to cut off new extortion payments will make it harder for Khoroshev to continue in the criminal underground, DiMaggio told Information Security Media Group on Monday.

"No one is going to work for LockBit," he said.

The federal action came just days after an international law enforcement consortium with participation from U.S., British and European agencies working together as Operation Cronos revived a previously seized LockBit leak site to activate a countdown timer mimicking ransomware pressure tactics with the heading "Who is LockBitSupp?" (see: Operation Cronos Again Threatens to Reveal LockBitSupp).

Prosecutors say LockBit contacted Operation Cronos police after the takedown "and offered his services in exchange for information regarding the identity" of his ransomware-as-a-service competitors. Khoroshev asked police to "give me the names of my enemies," the indictment states.

Operation Cronos in a February raid seized more than 35 LockBit servers and replaced the group's then-dark web leak page with a seizure notice and links touting the takedown (see: Arrests and Indictments in LockBit Crackdown).

According to the federal indictment, police seized LockBit victim lists - and the personal identification documents of affiliates.

The group reestablished a dark web presence within a week and posted a lengthy screed by LockBitSupp, who vowed not to retreat from the criminal underground.

The initial takedown didn't destroy LockBit, but it did significantly cut down the number of new victims. The group on Monday claimed a new batch, including Deutsche Telecom, the German firm that's Europe's largest telecommunications firm. It published on May 1 data stolen from a French hospital that the hospital confirmed as authentic.

Operation Cronos data analyzed by the U.K. national Crime Agency found that LockBit had 194 affiliates before the takedown. It now appears to have 94.

Previous high-profile LockBit victims include the New York financial services subsidiary of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in an incident that partially disrupted the market for U.S. Treasurys, Britain's Royal Mail, Boeing and a Chicago children's hospital.

LockBitSupp used a canny public relations strategy to position LockBit as the world's preeminent ransomware-as-a-service group, accounting for 2,500 victims and obtaining more than $500 million in ransom payments since its 2019 launch, according to the U.S. federal government. Khoroshev earned at least $100 million from the 20% cut of each extortion payment affiliates paid to LockBitSupp, prosecutors say.

The majority of LockBit victims - approximately 1,800 - were located in the United States. Prosecutors also say LockBit carried out ransomware attacks against "multiple Russia victims" despite a stricture generally observed by ransomware groups located in the former Soviet Union against targeting domestic firms.

The boasting over social media, brashness and media engagement served a purpose, said Allan Liska, principal intelligence analyst, Recorded Future. "Cultivating that persona attracts more affiliates, so it leads to more money," Liska said Monday. LockBitSupp has "always operated under the assumption that he's untouchable, so it doesn't matter if he gets more attention, because it helps bring in more money."

Liska and DiMaggio both praised Operation Cronos for its long-term campaign to undermine LockBit. Previous ransomware takedowns disrupted the infrastructure of ransomware groups but didn't undermine the credibility of its leaders.

"Operation Cronos, in my opinion, is the first one to get it right," DiMaggio said. "It's not a one-hit wonder; they've incorporated all these psychological effects."

Despite his bravura, LockBitSupp does appear to have been shaken by the February takedown, Liska said. "Dude has lost his mind, man," he said.

DiMaggio said his interactions with LockBitSupp have had an undercurrent of mental instability. "I don't think that LockBitSupp is insane, but he's not mentally well."

The Khoroshev indictment brings to six the number of LockBit members who face U.S. criminal charges. As part of the Operation Cronos unveiling, federal prosecutors unsealed in February indictments against two Russian nationals, Artur Sungatov and Ivan Gennadievich Kondratyev, aka Bassterlord, for their roles in LockBit hacks

Another Russian national, Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov, is in custody awaiting trial for carrying out at least four LockBit ransomware attacks against businesses in the United States, Asia, Europe and Africa (see: Russian National Charged With Carrying Out 4 LockBit Attacks).

A key figure of the Russian ransomware hacking underground, Mikhail Matveev, also faces criminal charges in indictments unsealed in Washington, D.C., federal court and New Jersey federal court. Matveev, aka "Wazawaka," worked as an affiliate for numerous ransomware groups, including LockBit.

LockBit ransomware affiliate Mikhail Vasiliev received a four-year prison sentence in Canada in March and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. (see: Canada Sentences LockBit Hacker Mikhail Vasiliev to 4 Years).

Updated May 7, 2024, 15:05 UTC: This story has been updated throughout.


About the Author

David Perera

David Perera

Editorial Director, News, ISMG

Perera is editorial director for news at Information Security Media Group. He previously covered privacy and data security for outlets including MLex and Politico.




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