US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Citizen For Medibank Ransomware Attack


The U.S. government has taken action against a Russian individual, Alexander Ermakov, for his alleged involvement in the ransomware attack on Medibank, a major Australian health insurance company. Ermakov is accused of infiltrating Medibank’s network and stealing sensitive information belonging to nearly 10 million patients.

Key Takeaway

The U.S. government has sanctioned Russian national Alexander Ermakov for his alleged involvement in the ransomware attack on Medibank. The sanctions, which are also the first of their kind under Australia’s new cyber sanctions framework, aim to deter individuals from engaging in such malicious activities.

Accusations Against Alexander Ermakov

Alexander Ermakov, a 33-year-old Russian national, has been sanctioned by the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom for his purported pivotal role in the cyberattack on Medibank. It is claimed that he accessed Medibank’s network in October 2022 and exfiltrated personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive health data of approximately 9.7 million customers.

Impact of the Ransomware Attack

The stolen data, which was made public on the dark web after Medibank declined to pay the hackers’ $10 million ransom, included customers’ names, birth dates, passport numbers, details of medical claims, and sensitive files related to abortions and alcohol-related illnesses. Notably, the breach is said to have affected several high-profile Medibank customers, including senior Australian government lawmakers.

Sanctions and Legal Ramifications

Following the Australian government’s announcement, the U.S. Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Ermakov. These sanctions, the first of their kind under Australia’s new cyber sanctions framework, criminalize the provision of assets to Ermakov and the use or handling of his assets, including through cryptocurrency wallets or ransomware payments. Violators could face imprisonment of up to 10 years and substantial fines.

Connection to REvil Ransomware Group

Ermakov and the other perpetrators of the Medibank breach are believed to have ties to the Russia-backed cybercrime syndicate REvil. This group was previously associated with the 2021 hack of Kaseya, a managed service provider based in Florida, which resulted in the encryption of thousands of its clients’ networks.

Effectiveness of Government Sanctions

Given the prevalence of ransomware attacks, a pertinent question arises: do government sanctions against ransomware groups work? This issue warrants careful consideration and analysis.

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