Who is Maksim Yakubets? Flamboyant Russian Hacker Paralyses Garmin in Ransomware Attack

Yakubets, who carries a $5M FBI bounty on his head, is the brain behind the ransom attack that has paralyzed Garmin's services.

Maksim Viktorovich Yakubets, who is believed to be the brain behind the ransom attack that has put Garmin's services to a sudden halt for the fifth consecutive day, is the cynosure of all eyes. Russian group Evil Corps has now demanded $10 million ransom to restore Garmin's operations.

Yakubets is wanted for his involvement with computer malware that infected tens of thousands of computers in several cities of Europe and North America. His actions have resulted in actual financial losses in the tens of millions of dollars.

Maksim Viktorovich Yakubets
Maksim Viktorovich Yakubets aka head of Evil Corps FBI

As a result of this, the United States Department of State's Transnational Organised Crime Rewards Program is offering $5 million for information leading to the conviction of the Ukrainian hacker. So far, this has been the largest reward being offered for an alleged criminal connected to cybercrime.

The FBI report further states that Maksim was allegedly involved in the installation of malicious software known as Zeus that was disseminated through phishing emails. Zeus has been used to capture victims' online banking details.

Using Online Moniker 'Aqua'

In addition to this, Yakubets is also allegedly the leader of the Bugat/Cridex/Dridex malware conspiracy where he oversaw the development, maintenance, distribution, and later infection of the malware.

Very little is publicly revealed about the personal life of Maksim. A couple of the previous reports reveals that the famous hacker owns a Lamborghini with a personalized number plate that translates to 'thief' and uses the online moniker 'Aqua.'

In 2019, NCA director Rob Jones stated that Maksim has a very "flamboyant, extravagant and lavish lifestyle in Russia." He also stated the hacker was cash-rich with fast cars that he bought from the proceeds of the frauds.

Garmin's Latest Update

Garmin devices are down for the fourth day after being hacked by Maksim Yakubets' Evil Corps group. The company said on Twitter that its website and all the Garmin Connect fitness mobile applications had been offline since last Thursday. Along with this, Garmin's FlyGarmin site that is used for the aviation database was also down.

Garmin Account Hacked
Garmin Company's update on ransomware Garmin Ftiness/Twitter

"We are currently experiencing an outage that affects flyGarmin and as a result, the flyGarmin website and mobile app are down at this time," it noted in a website notice. "This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unavailable to receive any emails or chats, but do have limited availability for calls. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience."

It further added that the in-flight phone and SMS services are available via Iridium and Garmin's FltPlan services which are used for runway analysis, flight planning, and safety services are fully functional. The company noted that the recent outage is affecting their call centers and as a result of this, they are not available to receive any online chats, emails, or calls.

Several security analysts have now reported that the reason behind the attack on Garmin is ransomware, a technique used by hackers to encrypt the company's data and only make it available for them once their demands are fulfilled.