Police bust ransomware ring behind attacks in 71 countries

Law enforcement agencies from seven countries have busted “key figures” behind an international ransomware operation operating from several locations inside Ukraine.

Over 30 properties in Ukraine’s regions of Kyiv, Cherkasy, Rivne, and Vinnytsia were searched last week, resulting in the arrest of the 32-year-old ringleader of the ransomware operation, Europol announced. Four accomplices were also detained.

Over 20 investigators from Norway, France, Germany, and the United States were deployed alongside their Ukrainian colleagues in Kyiv amidst a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine.

International involvement in the anti-ransomware operation was necessary due to the scope of perpetrators’ activities. Europol claims the suspects are “responsible for a series of high-profile ransomware attacks against organizations in 71 countries.”

“These cyber actors are known for specifically targeting large corporations, effectively bringing their businesses to a standstill. They deployed LockerGoga, MegaCortex, HIVE, and Dharma ransomware, among others, to carry out their attacks,” Europol said.

The suspects performed various tasks within the ransomware ring, with some compromising target IT networks and others taking up the task of laundering ransom money received from multiple victims.

“The investigation determined that the perpetrators encrypted over 250 servers belonging to large corporations, resulting in losses exceeding several hundreds of millions of euros,” Europol said.

Ransomware Ukraine
Arrests in Ukraine. Still from a video by the Ukraine's National Police.

According to law enforcement, the recent arrests are a continuation of the same investigation that resulted in the arrests made in 2021, when a dozen individuals targeting critical infrastructure were detained.

Meanwhile, today’s announcement revealed that several authorities were involved in the arrests:

  • Norway: National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos)
  • France: Public Prosecutor’s Office of Paris, National Police (Police Nationale – OCLCTIC)
  • Netherlands: National Police (Politie), National Public Prosecution Service (Landelijk Parket, Openbaar Ministerie)
  • Ukraine: Prosecutor General’s Office (Офіс Генерального прокурора), National Police of Ukraine (Національна поліція України)
  • Germany: Public Prosecutor’s Office of Stuttgart, Police Headquarters Reutlingen (Polizeipräsidium Reutlingen) CID Esslingen
  • Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office of Police (fedpol), Polizei Basel-Landschaft, Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Canton of Zurich, Zurich Cantonal Police
  • United States: United States Secret Service (USSS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Europol: European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)
  • Eurojust

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