Experts believe that the arrest of Ilya Sachkov, the founder and CEO of Group-IB, will not affect the company’s work, nor will it affect the Russian information security market. Criminal cases against the heads of companies working in the field of information security have already happened in Russia.
On September 28, the office of Group-IB was searched, and the next day the court put the businessman in custody for two months on charges of treason. He might face up to 20 years in prison.
It is still unclear what exactly Ilya Sachkov’s crime was. Group-IB lawyers are studying the court order, and employees are confident in the innocence of their leader and in his business reputation. At the moment, the technical director and co-founder of Group-IB Dmitry Volkov temporarily heads the company.
Ilya Sachkov and Dmitry Volkov opened Group-IB in 2003. The company creates products to combat online fraud, works in the field of computer forensics, consulting and auditing of information security systems. As noted on the Group-IB website, it cooperates with Interpol, Europol and the OSCE, provides assistance to Russian special services and law enforcement agencies in operations against hacker groups. The company’s income can be at least 2 billion rubles ($27.2 million) per year, excluding foreign assets.
According to one version, Group-IB’s problems could arise due to too close contacts of its employees with Western intelligence services. So, in 2020, the US Department of Justice accused Nikita Kislitsin, head of the Department of network security of Group-IB, of trying to sell stolen data of users of the social network Formspring. As follows from the testimony of Kislitsin, in order to avoid punishment, he leaked to the FBI “a lot of information on Russian hackers and hackers in uniform.” According to some media reports, Sachkov personally allegedly agreed to this.
Another theory is that the detention of Ilya Sachkov was influenced by the interrogation of Russian hacker Pavel Sitnikov, which took place on the eve of the searches in Group-IB. According to the hacker’s representative, Sitnikov repeatedly criticized the activities of Group-IB and the company’s founder Ilya Sachkov, and also collected compromising information on him.