France nabs serial hacker behind over 50,000 cybercrimes

Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki was arrested for attacking a psychotherapy center and blackmailing the patients. But that is only one of the thousands of cybercrime deeds on his track record.

Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki was arrested by French authorities after being charged with extortion and racketeering.

Reportedly, in October 2020, the hacker broke into the Helsinki-based private psychotherapy center Vastaamo and stole therapy-related sensitive data and financial information of allegedly more than 22,000 patients.

As the center refused to pay a six-figure ransom, individual patients received threats to expose their private information unless a €500 ransom would be paid.

The perpetrator ended up uploading a large compressed file containing all of the stolen Vastaamo patients’ records onto the dark web. However, he included a copy of his home folder that led security experts to Kivimäki.

The suspect has denied all allegations and has been hiding from Finish authorities since October 2022. After the arrest warrant was issued, he went on to deny any kind of involvement in criminal activities since his teenage years in a tweet. He also expressed remorse for his past actions.

The Finnish police have confirmed the arrest of a suspect through a press release. “The arrest is the result of long-lasting international cooperation and the police’s own information acquisition,” commented Commissioner Marko Leponen from the Central Crime Police.

“The schedule of the extradition process depends on many factors, so at this stage, it is challenging to estimate when the suspect will be brought to Finland.” added the commissioner.

Vastaamo hacker Kivimaki
Notice on Europol's website. Image by Cybernews

Previously convicted for over 50,000 cybercrimes

Kivimäki was a member of a cybercriminals group called Lizard Squad. The group was most active in late 2014 and was connected with DDoS attacks on PlayStation and Xbox online gaming services, as well as with bomb threats against a plane carrying Sony Online Entertainment’s president, John Smedley.

Kivimäki, while still a teenager, was involved in a series of high-profile cyberattacks and was convicted for more than 50,000 cybercrimes in 2013.

The 17-year-old has not been jailed. Instead, he got a two-year suspended prison sentence. The leniency of the sentence has drawn criticism from experts in the field of cybercrime.

Alan Woodward, a consultant to Europol, expressed his concern over the impact the sentence may have on deterring future hackers.

"If I were another hacking group and saw someone attract a suspended sentence for over 50,000 hacks, some of which caused significant damage, I don't think it would cause me much concern," he said.

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