Group-IB founder arrested in Moscow on state treason charges
Image: Group-IB
Catalin Cimpanu September 29, 2021

Group-IB founder arrested in Moscow on state treason charges

Catalin Cimpanu

September 29, 2021

Group-IB founder arrested in Moscow on state treason charges

  • Ilya Sachkov, founder and CEO of Russian security firm Group-IB, was detained in Moscow on Tuesday.
  • Sachkov has been charged with treason for sharing data with foreign intelligence services.
  • The Group-IB founder risks up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Russian law enforcement agencies have raided the office of cybersecurity company Group-IB and detained its founder and chief executive officer, Ilya Sachkov, for two months, on state treason charges.

The raids, first reported by Russian news outlet RTVI, took place on Tuesday, September 28.

RTVI reporters who approached armed officers in front of Group-IB’s Moscow building were told to come back the next day.

Group-IB confirmed the raids in a statement to The Record but did not comment on its CEO’s arrest.

“Law enforcement officers left Group-IB’s office at night the same day,” the company said.

Group-IB’s communications team said the reason for the search was not yet clear but wanted to reassure customers in other countries that their data was safe.

The decentralized 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.

Group-IB communications team

Group-IB CEO detained for two months

Earlier today on Wednesday, fellow Russian news outlet BFM confirmed Sachov’s arrest, citing a spokesperson for the Lefortovo Court in Moscow.

According to Moscow court officials, the Group-IB CEO was charged under Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code on state treason charges and detained for two months until November 27, 2021.

Russian news agency TASS reported that the treason charge is related to Group-IB sharing data with foreign intelligence agencies.

Group-IB confirmed the arrest in a press release after this article’s publication, said it was confident of its CEO’s innocence, and announced that the company’s chief technical officer Dmitry Volkov will take over leadership duties for the immediate future.

Sachkov made controversial statements last year

Group-IB is one of Russia’s largest cyber-security firms. Founded in Russia but now officially headquartered in Singapore, the company has often collaborated with Europol and Interpol on investigations that led to the arrest of multiple cybercrime groups, such as malware gangs and email scammers.

In a 2020 Bloomberg feature, Sachkov infamously said that Russia wasn’t serious about catching hackers and that he moved the company to Singapore to preserve its independence.

In 2019, a US court charged Nikita Kislitsin, a Group-IB analyst, for receiving and trying to sell data stolen from US company Formspring. The charges were for actions before Kislitsin joined the company.

Article updated at 08:35am ET time with information from the TASS report and a second Group-IB press release.

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.