REvil, or Sodinokibi, is one of the most notorious hacker gangs in the world. Known for their ransomware attacks, the group claims it will make $100 million by the end of the year[1]. Here is a brief overview of the Russian hackers and their illicit accomplishments.

A sordid history

For all of their high-profile attacks, concrete information about the group remains elusive to the public. They are likely based in Russia due to known cybersecurity information as well as their unwillingness to attack companies or governments in the former Soviet-bloc.

An offshoot

Cybersecurity analysts believe malicious developers from a previous group called GandCrab make up REvil[2]. GandCrab was a prolific gang that collected an estimated $2 billion in ransoms in an 18-month period between 2018-2019. REvil popped up almost immediately after GandCrab stopped activities in 2019, and the two malware share much of the same code.

The gang also employs a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) model to supplement their revenue. Those interested in a more in-depth breakdown of ransomware can read our recent blog post about the topic.

RaaS is interesting because the gang itself doesn’t have to focus constantly on finding new victims. REvil simply licenses out their malware to vetted affiliates, who do the dirty work of searching for and breaching vulnerable networks. REvil then takes a healthy 20-30% cut of the affiliates’ payments. How’s that for a business model!

High-profile attacks

Texas local governments. In a concerted August attack, REvil infected 23 local Texas government agencies and demanded a $2.5 million collective ransom[3]. The malware brought down the systems and websites of these agencies. Luckily, the victims were well-prepared in this case. Teams of cybersecurity experts restored the systems via backups or full rebuilds. They did not cooperate with REvil, and their sites are now back online.

Travelex: On New Year’s Eve in 2019, REvil infiltrated Travelex’s network. Travelex is a foreign currency exchange company known for its kiosks in airports around the world. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t very vigilant when it came to cybersecurity. They hadn’t installed any security patches for their VPN system in over two years! This allowed REvil to breach their network and inject ransomware easily.

It spread so fast that it took down their entire operation. Instead of coming clean about the hacking incident, Travelex claimed it was “planned maintenance” and quietly paid a $2.3 million ransom to the notorious gang. Once this information leaked (as it usually does), the company was in real hot water. Not only had their lax security policies led to a data breach and loss of service, but they lied about it. It evidently affected consumers’ trust, as the company did not recover from the situation. After a failed attempt to sell, Travelex fell into administration, cut over 1300 jobs, and is currently undergoing significant corporate restructuring[4].

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks: In May of 2020, REvil stole over 750 gigabytes of confidential legal documents from the Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks law firm[5]. The practice is famous for representing celebrities and other high-profile clients. REvil gained access to records pertaining to people such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, Drake, Elton John, and United States President Donald Trump. At first, the ransom was an already-obscene $21 million but ballooned to $42 million after they figured out they had Trump’s information.

Upon the FBI’s guidance, the firm allegedly refused to pay the ransom, causing REvil to auction the information on the Dark Web to the highest bidder.

According to a recent interview with an apparent member of the gang, this may not be the entire story. The hacker claims a secret identity paid the ransom to prevent the Trump documents from leaking[6]. This cannot be confirmed but adds another layer of intrigue to the incident.

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland. Wealthy televangelist pastor Kenneth Copeland suffered a REvil attack recently as well. The hackers encrypted and stole 1.2 terabytes of information from the Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ computer systems. The data includes email databases, bank documents, financial contracts, and more. The actual ransom demand amount isn’t known at the moment, but with an estimated net worth of over $750 million, the famous Pastor can likely afford it. If unpaid, he’ll need to take some time off from banishing evil from the world, to focus on banishing REvil from his network.

Desperate or enterprising?

REvil uses a double-extortion method to extract ransom payments from its victims. This means that they encrypt the breached data so that the victim must either pay to unlock it or restore it from a backup (which they may or may not have). Concurrently, they steal and transfer the information back to their own storage and threaten to sell it on the Dark Web. This means even if the company, agency, or individual has a backup, they still might elect to pay up to stop the data from leaking. It’s a lucrative model, but evidently not lucrative enough.

According to the interview mentioned above, the gang may add another wrinkle. They are now considering flooding a victim’s website with bot traffic, called a Denial-of-Service, to bring it down while also employing the double-extortion methods. This cripples the victim’s ability to function and puts more pressure on them to remedy the situation quickly.

Some analysts wonder if this is a sign that the gang is in desperate need of more money. However, it could just be good, old-fashioned greed. Only time will tell. What is certain is that REvil shows no sign of stopping their practices soon, and even if it does shutter eventually, a new gang will form out of the ashes to continue their dubious legacy.

Data security

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[1] Tara Seals,”REvil Gang Promises a Big Video-Game Hit; Maze Gang Shuts Down”, threatpost, Oct. 29, 2020,

[2] Jai Vijayan, “GandCrab Developers Behind Destructive REvil Ransomware”, Dark Reading, Sept. 25, 2019,

[3] “Texas government organisations hit by ransomware attack”, BBC News, Aug. 2019,

[4] Kalyeena Makortoff, “Travelex falls into administration, with loss of 1,300 jobs”, The Guardian, Aug. 6, 2020,

[5] Lindsey O’Donnell, “REvil Ransomware Attack Hits A-List Celeb Law Firm”, threatpost, May 12, 2020,

[6] Tara Seals,”REvil Gang Promises a Big Video-Game Hit; Maze Gang Shuts Down”, threatpost, Oct. 29, 2020,