Police arrested 12 individuals involved in 1800 ransomware attacks worldwide

Europol and Norwegian Police arrested 12 individuals over ransomware attacks on organizations worldwide, including critical infrastructure operators.

A joint operation conducted by Europol, the Norwegian Police and other authorities led to the arrest of 12 individuals over ransomware attacks on organizations worldwide, including critical infrastructure operators.

The suspects were involved in more than 1,800 ransomware attacks against victims across 71 countries, the threat actors focused on large corporations.

The list of victims of the group also includes Norwegian giant Norsk Hydr that was hit in 2019. In just one week after the ransomware attack, the company declared it had more than $40 million losses.

“A total of 12 individuals wreaking havoc across the world with ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure have been targeted as the result of a law enforcement and judicial operation involving eight countries.” reads the press release published by the Europol. “These attacks are believed to have affected over 1 800 victims in 71 countries. These cyber actors are known for specifically targeting large corporations, effectively bringing their business to a standstill.”

The operation took place on October 26 in Ukraine and Switzerland. Most of these suspects are suspected to have been involved in multiple high-profile cases investigated by authorities worldwide. 

The police seized over USD 52 000 in cash, 5 luxury vehicles and number of electronic devices that are currently being examined by the authorities. 

The suspects had different roles in prominent criminal rings, some of them were in charge penetrating the systems of the target organizations with different means, such as brute-force attacks, SQL injections, phishing emails and leveraging stolen credentials.

Once gained access to the computer network of the organizations, some of the suspects were in charge to perform lateral movement and deploying malware such as Trickbot, or post-exploitation tools such as Cobalt Strike or PowerShell Empire.

The malicious actors used several malware families in their attacks, including LockerGoga, MegaCortex and Dharma.

Some of the individuals interrogated by the police are suspected of overseeing money laundering activities, they used mixing services before cashing out the payments received by the victims. 

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Europol)

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Pierluigi Paganini: Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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