Detained Russian cyber sec tycoon 'exposed classified data', state media claims

Ilya Sachkov

Ilya Sachkov, the cyber security expert arrested by Russian authorities on Wednesday, has been accused of handing over classified security data to an unnamed foreign intelligence service, the country's state media has reported.

According to information obtained by the state-owned news agency Tass, an anonymous source claims that Sachkov is under investigation for being "employed" by the intelligence agencies of several countries and that officials suspect Sachkov handed over classified information on cyber security. However, there does not appear to be any corroborating evidence to support this report.

Sachkov is the founder of a prominent International cyber security firm, Group IB, which specialises in ransomware and online fraud. Its client base is spread around the world and includes the likes of Microsoft, BP, and Interpol.

Sachkov was arrested by Russia's FSB on charges of treason and will spend the next two months in prison while the investigation is conducted. There have been a number of treason-related arrests in Russia over the last few years, details of which are rarely made public. The crime carries a penalty of up to 20-years in prison.

"He was in a grey area because of the industry he worked in. The secret services consider cyber security to be part of their territory. So either he crossed a line, or he crossed somebody's interests," a person who has worked with Sachkov told The Financial Times.

Group IB has confirmed that its offices were raided by law enforcement on Wednesday but added that it was unaware of the reasons for the investigation. Sachkov has denied the charges of high treason and collaborating with foreign intelligence services.

"Group-IB's team is confident in the innocence of the company's CEO and his business integrity," the company said in a statement.

The company is actually headquartered in Singapore but has hosted senior international law enforcement officials at its conferences in Moscow. Other reports have also suggested further raids on offices in St Petersburg, but the company has said it is continuing to operate as normal.

"The decentralised infrastructure of Group-IB allows us to keep our customer's data safe, maintain business operations and work without interruption across our offices in Russia and around the world," the company said.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

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