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Russia arrests prominent cyber security executive

Founder and CEO of cyber security firm Group-IB detained in Moscow on treason charges

Russian authorities have arrested Ilya Sachkov, the founder and chief executive of cyber security firm Group-IB, accusing him of collaborating with western intelligence agencies and treason, according to reports.

RTVI, a Russian TV station, reported on Tuesday 28 September that the company’s offices in Moscow had been raided and that Sachkov had been detained for a period of two months under Russian law. According to news agency TASS, he denies the charges, which carry a possible 20-year prison term.

In a statement, a Group-IB spokesperson said: “At the moment, the lawyers of Group-IB… are examining the statement by Moscow’s Lefortovo court of September 28, 2021 with regard to Group-IB CEO and founder Ilya Sachkov.

“Group-IB’s team is confident in the innocence of the company’s CEO and his business integrity.

“Group-IB’s communications team refrains from commenting on the charges brought and the circumstances of the criminal case due to the ongoing procedural activities,” they added. “Group-IB co-founder Dmitry Volkov will assume the leadership of the company in the near future.”

Group-IB also confirmed that its offices had been raided but said the reasons for this search were unclear. It said its other offices remained open, and that its operations were unaffected.

“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,” said the spokesperson.

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Founded in 2003 while Sachkov was a student at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Group-IB specialises in threat-hunting and cyber intelligence services.

It frequently works alongside organisations such as Europol and Interpol, is recommended as a cyber services provider by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Sachkov had become well known as a technology leader, and has previously been feted as one of Russia’s more prominent entrepreneurs, appearing alongside president Vladimir Putin on numerous occasions.

More recently, however, he appears to have distanced himself from the country’s increasingly authoritarian regime, and in 2018, moved the company’s headquarters to Singapore, citing a need to ensure the company’s independence.

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