One of the world's most notorious ransomware teams is shutting down

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Just as other ransomware groups have done in the past, the Maze cybercrime gang has announced that it will shut down its operations after only being active for a year and a half.

The group started deploying its ransomware in May of last year but it became more active in November when the operators of the Maze ransomware (opens in new tab) came up with a double-extortion tactic to ensure its ransom demands were met.

As reported by BleepingComputer (opens in new tab), Maze reached out to the news outlet after stealing the unencrypted data of Allied Universal. The group threatened to publicly release the data if the ransom wasn't paid and when that happened, it created a new site called Maze News (opens in new tab) which it used to publish victims' data and issue press releases.

Maze's double-extortion technique was popular among other cybercriminals and for this reason other ransomware operations such as REvil (opens in new tab), Clop and DoppelPaymer created their own data leak sites. Maze then went on to form a ransomware syndicate (opens in new tab) with Ragnar Locker and LockBit in order to exchange tactics and information.

Maze shut down

During the year and a half that Maze was in operation, the group managed to successfully attack a number of large organizations and cities including Southwire, the City of Pensacola, Canon (opens in new tab), LG, Xerox and others.

Rumors that Maze was preparing to shut down just as GandCrab did last year (opens in new tab) began spreading online last month and the news was confirmed when a threat actor reached out to BleepingComputer. They told the news outlet that Maze was in the process of shutting down its operations and that the group had stopped encrypting new victims in September.

Maze has now begun removing victims from its Maze News site and only two victims along with the data of those who failed to pay the group's ransom demands remain on the site.

While Maze's shut down is good news for the cybersecurity community and organizations that could be targeted, it is still unclear as to whether or not the group will release the master decryption keys (opens in new tab) for its ransomware. Crysis, TelsaCrypt and Shade all did so when they shut down so it is possible that Maze could follow suit by releasing its keys.

Unfortunately though, when a ransomware group steps down, another will rise to fill its place and apparently many Maze affiliates have already switched over to a new ransomware operation called Egregor. It is believed that Egregor uses the same underlying software as Maze as well as the same ransom notes, a similar payment site and much of the same code.

Via BleepingComputer (opens in new tab)

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.