Monday, February 6

Several suspects in thousands of ‘ransomware’ attacks arrested in international operation

Image of the well-known McAfee antivirus

Image of the well-known McAfee antivirus

An international investigation has led to the arrest of multiple hackers allegedly responsible for thousands of ‘ransomware’ attacks.

A total of 17 countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Canada – as well as Interpol, Europol y Eurojust, have participated in the so-called operation GoldDust.

Within the framework of this, the United States Department of Justice announced this Monday the capture in Poland of a suspicious ukrainian of being behind cyberattacks, including a major one against the US service provider Kaseya.

Hundreds of companies from the United States and other countries were attacked with extortion programs via a Kaseya vulnerability in early July.

Meanwhile, Europol and Eurojust have reported the arrest of two people in Romania for allegedly using REvil software to carry out attacks.

The suspects are accused of launching a 7,000 attacks against companies and organizations, in which software was used to block the content of their computers until they received a payment. Apparently, they made millions of euros.

In addition, the two EU agencies announced in previous days another five arrests in other countries. In this regard, Eurojust said that cyberattacks were targeting a wide range of institutionssuch as businesses, local governments, hospitals, schools, universities, and courts.

French, German, Romanian and Swiss teams have been at the core of the European operation, according to Eurojust.

On the other hand, Interpol pointed out other arrests in Kuwait and South Korea related to the exchange of information through the operation.

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Extortion software – known as ‘ransomware’ – consists of hackers encrypt the data and then demand money to release it.

The REvil group has carried out major attacks in recent months, and has demanded 70 million dollars (more than 60 million euros) for a master key for all computers affected in the attack on Kaseya. Since many of Kaseya’s affected customers were IT service providers, the effects of the attack were far-reaching.

Similarly, in Sweden, the Coop supermarket chain was unable to open hundreds of stores because its checkout systems stopped working.

A few weeks before, the software REvil paralyzed several plants of the largest meat group in the world, JBS, in a global impact attack. The hackers collected a ransom of $ 11 million (about € 9 million) in cryptocurrency from the company.

The Attorney General of the United States, Merrick Garland, has asserted that so far at least 200 million dollars (more than 172 million euros) have been paid in ransoms in attacks with REvil software.

In this context, Garland has advanced that the United States has requested the extradition of the 22-year-old Ukrainian arrested upon entering Poland and has reported that the Department of Justice also seized $ 6.1 million (about 5.2 million euros) allegedly captured by a Russian REvil hacker accused of attacking some 3,000 targets with ‘ransomware’.

On the other hand, the US State Department has offered this Monday a reward of one million dollars (more than 860,000 euros) for clues leading to identification or arrest of the leaders of the REvil group or anyone involved in the attacks with the software.

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This reward is in addition to the one offered days before by the group of DarkSide hackers, that the United States believes it is behind an attack on the largest oil pipeline in the United States, which temporarily interrupted its operations.

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