Russia arrests cybersecurity expert for treason

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JULY 9, 2020: Group-IB CEO and founder Ilya Sachkov speaks during a panel discussion with IT industry representatives at Innopolis Popov Technopark.
Enlarge / KAZAN, RUSSIA – JULY 9, 2020: Group-IB CEO and founder Ilya Sachkov speaks during a panel discussion with IT industry representatives at Innopolis Popov Technopark.

Dmitry Astakhov | fake images

The founder of one of Russia’s largest cybersecurity companies has been arrested on suspicion of state treason and will be held in a notorious prison run by the security services for the next two months, a Moscow court said on Wednesday.

The charges against Ilya Sachkov, founder of Group-IB, are classified and the details of them were not immediately clear. The state news agency Tass quoted an anonymous source as saying that Sachkov denied having transmitted secret information to foreign intelligence services.

Group-IB, which specializes in preventing cybercrime and ransomware, confirmed that police raided its agents yesterday, but said they did not know the reason for Sachkov’s arrest.

“The Group-IB team trusts the innocence of the CEO of the company and his business integrity,” the company said in a statement.

Dmitry Volkov, Group-IB co-founder, will assume leadership responsibilities from Sachkov, he added.

RIA Novosti, another state news service, reported that investigators searched the IB-Group’s St. Petersburg office and other unspecified facilities on Wednesday.

The Singapore-based company is an official partner of Interpol and Europol and has hosted top international law enforcement officials at their conferences in Moscow. Its private sector clients include BP, Microsoft, DHL and several major Russian state-owned companies.

Group-IB said it continued to function normally. “Group-IB’s decentralized infrastructure enables us to keep our clients’ data secure, maintain business operations and work seamlessly in our offices in Russia and around the world,” the company said.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters Wednesday that Sachkov’s arrest “had nothing to do with the business and investment climate in our country,” according to Interfax.

“I was in a gray area because of the industry I was working in. The secret services consider that cybersecurity is part of their territory. So either he crossed a line, or he crossed someone’s interests, ”said a person who has worked with Sachkov.

Russia’s FSB, the KGB’s successor agency, arrested several prominent scientists, cybersecurity officials and a former journalist in recent years on treason charges, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Convictions on the various counterintelligence-related statues, which have significantly broadened definitions of state secrets and potentially qualify almost all contacts with foreign organizations as treason, have increased fivefold since 2009, according to Mediazona, an independent news site that covers the crime of Russia. justice system.

In 2019, a court sentenced a former senior FSB cybersecurity official to 22 years on treason charges for passing information to the U.S. A former top executive at Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s top cybersecurity firm, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the same case, the details of which were not made public.

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