In a notable case, an 18-year-old member of the Lapsus$ data extortion group, Arion Kurtaj, has been convicted by a London jury for hacking and extorting several prominent companies, such as Uber, Revolut, and Rockstar Games. Operating since September 2022, Kurtaj executed a series of individual attacks. He accessed around 5,000 customer records from Revolut and caused $3 million in damage to Uber. Subsequently, he targeted Rockstar Games, threatening to release the source code of the popular video game Grand Theft Auto sequel. Additional victims of his attacks include BT Group, a UK broadband provider, and Nvidia.
Kurtaj, who has autism and was evaluated by psychiatrists as unfit to stand trial, underwent a jury evaluation to determine whether he was responsible for the attacks and if he had criminal intent. Prosecutors highlighted Kurtaj and an unnamed 17-year-old, whose case was tried simultaneously, as significant contributors to the Lapsus$ group.
“Prosecutors said Kurtaj and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons and whose case was heard alongside Kurtaj’s, were “key players” in Lapsus$”, according to the published report.
The jury’s verdict found Kurtaj guilty of 12 offenses, including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and six charges under the Computer Misuse Act. The 17-year-old was found guilty of one count of fraud, one count of blackmail, and one count under the Computer Misuse Act linked to Nvidia. However, the 17-year-old was acquitted of one count each of blackmail and Computer Misuse Act violation associated with BT.
Kurtaj had previously pleaded guilty to one count under the Computer Misuse Act and one count of fraud concerning BT, as well as one count under the Computer Misuse Act related to hacking the City of London Police.
The Lapsus$ group was highly active in the threat landscape, targeting numerous high-profile organizations like NVIDIA, Samsung, Ubisoft, Mercado Libre, Vodafone, Microsoft, Okta, and Globant. Between 2021 and 2022, this cyber threat group conducted a series of activities involving individuals from the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Brazil. Their tactics included a combination of social engineering and hacking techniques of varying levels of complexity. The group’s motivations appeared to revolve around gaining recognition, financial gain, and a sense of amusement.
However, the Lapsus$ activity came to a halt in September of the previous year. This cessation was a result of law enforcement actions that led to the arrest of multiple members of the group. These arrests took place in different geographical locations, including the U.K. and Brazil. The action against the group was a coordinated effort by law enforcement to curtail their activities and bring them to justice.