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Europol arrests five ransomware attackers in Ukraine

TL;DR

  • The Europol has arrested five hackers suspected of orchestrating ransomware attacks worldwide.
  • Disrupting ransomware attacks and providing solutions.

Law enforcement agencies, including Europol and international partners, recently achieved a significant breakthrough in the battle against cybercrime. In a collaborative effort, five individuals were apprehended and accused of orchestrating a series of ransomware attacks that impacted over 1,800 victims worldwide. The arrests followed raids at 30 locations in Ukraine, targeting the criminal gang’s leader, aged 32, and four key accomplices, whose identities remain undisclosed.

Europol arrests five for ransomware attacks

The operation was a result of extensive collaboration, with over 20 investigators from Norway, France, Germany, and the United States providing support to the Ukrainian National Police in Kyiv. Europol played a pivotal role by establishing a virtual command center in the Netherlands to effectively process the data seized during the raids. Ukrainian Cyber Police reported the seizure of various items, including computer equipment, vehicles, bank and phone SIM cards, and numerous electronic media items.

Notably, cryptocurrency assets totaling nearly four million hryvnias (approximately $110,000) were confiscated, along with other pieces of evidence pointing to illegal activities. This development stems from a prolonged investigation that began in 2021, leading to the arrest of 12 individuals in Ukraine and Switzerland. Europol emphasized that the earlier actions contributed to identifying the suspects targeted in the recent operation in Kyiv, showcasing the persistence and dedication of international law enforcement agencies in combating cyber threats.

The accused individuals are alleged to have encrypted over 250 servers belonging to major corporations, successfully extorting “several hundred million euros” through their ransomware attacks. The criminal network operated with distinct roles, employing various techniques. Some members used brute-force attacks and stolen credentials to breach networks, while others utilized malware like Trickbot to avoid detection and gain further access. Additionally, certain individuals were suspected of overseeing the laundering of cryptocurrency payments made by victims attempting to regain access to their files.

Disrupting ransomware attacks and providing solutions

Europol accused the hackers of causing substantial disruption to targeted organizations, employing ransomware variants such as LockerGoga, MegaCortex, Hive, and Dharma. The use of LockerGoga is noteworthy, as it was previously employed in the 2019 cyberattack against Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian aluminum processor. The success of these attacks highlights the evolving sophistication of ransomware tactics and the need for proactive measures to counter such threats.

The investigation conducted by Europol into this criminal organization has yielded broader benefits. Collaborating with Swiss authorities, Bitdefender, and the European Union’s No More Ransom project, Europol contributed to the development of decryption tools for LockerGoga and MegaCortex ransomware variants. These tools offer victims an avenue to recover their files without succumbing to the pressure of paying ransoms, marking a significant stride in disrupting the financial incentives of cyber criminals.

The successful collaboration among international law enforcement agencies not only underscores the global nature of cyber threats but also highlights the importance of shared efforts in addressing these challenges. As ransomware attacks continue to evolve, law enforcement’s ability to identify, apprehend, and dismantle criminal networks becomes paramount in safeguarding individuals and organizations from these malicious activities. The seized assets, including cryptocurrency funds, serve as a tangible illustration of the financial motivations driving cybercrime.

By disrupting these illicit operations and providing tools for victims to recover their files, authorities aim to mitigate the impact on individuals and organizations while sending a strong message against engaging in cybercriminal activities. The recent operation stands as a testament to the collective efforts of international law enforcement agencies in tackling cyber threats. As technology advances, the adaptability and collaboration of law enforcement become pivotal in ensuring a secure digital landscape for individuals and businesses worldwide.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Owotunse Adebayo

Adebayo loves to keep tab of exciting projects in the blockchain space. He is a seasoned writer who has written tons of articles about cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

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