Europol caught 12 behind ransomware attacks on 1,800 victims

Image for an article titled Europol catches 12 suspects believed to have used ransomware to attack 1,800 victims in 71 countries

Photography: Rob Engelaar / ANP / AFP (Getty Images)

The fight against ransomware attacks continues, this time on the other side of the Atlantic. After a two-year investigation,, Europol announced this week that it had captured 12 individuals in various criminal organizations who were “shooting all over the world” by launching ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure.

According to Europol, the suspects are believed to have carried out attacks that affected more than 1,800 victims in 71 countries. The group is known for targeting large companies and suspected of being behind the attack on Norsk Hydro– global aluminum productionr based in Norway – in 2019, which forced it to stop production in its factories on two continents. The attack paralyzed Norsk Hydro for almost a week and cost the company more than $ 50 million.

Europol seized more than $ 52,000 in cash from the suspects, as well as five luxury vehicles. The agency is currently conducting a forensic analysis of the group’s electronic devices to “provide evidence and identify new investigative clues.”

The international action was coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, the European Union’s agency for co-operation in criminal justice, and included authorities from eight different countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. It happened in Ukraine and Switzerland on October 26, Europol announced news announcement.

It is unclear whether the suspects in question were arrested or indicted, and Europol only said they were “targeted”.

“Most of these suspects are considered high-value targets because they are being investigated in several high-profile cases in different jurisdictions,” the agency said.

Each of the cybercriminals had different roles in criminal organizations. Some were tasked with infiltrating victims’ IT networks using a variety of means, including brute force attacks, SQL injections, stolen credentials, and phishing emails with malicious attachments.

Others went to work when their friends accessed the victims ’IT networks. After the fact, they would deploy malware, such as Trickbot, and other tools to help them stay under the radar and gain further access, Europol explained.

“Criminals would then lie undetected in compromised systems, sometimes for months, looking for more vulnerabilities in IT networks before moving on to monetizing the use of ransomware,” Europol said, adding: “The effects of the ransomware attack were devastating because criminals have had time to detect IT networks undetected. ”

The story then turns and becomes what most of us are sadly familiar with: The attackers encrypted the victims ’files and then sent a ransom message asking for payment in bitcoins in exchange for the decryption keys. If the ransom was paid, some suspects were allegedly in charge of laundering funds through mixing services and paying out money.

Europol did not go into details about the group’s identity victims or why they may have been the target. On the other side of the pond, ransomware attacks were also on the rise, are cyber criminals launching an attack against large IT corporations and damaged infrastructure.

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Naveen Kumar

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