12 People Arrested Over Ransomware Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

Europol and Norwegian Police on Friday announced the arrests of 12 individuals suspected of being involved in ransomware attacks launched against companies around the world, including critical infrastructure organizations.

According to Europol, the suspects played various roles in ransomware attacks that impacted more than 1,800 victims across 71 countries, including many major corporations that suffered significant disruptions due to the attacks.

The law enforcement operation targeting the 12 suspects was carried out on October 26 in Ukraine and Switzerland, and it resulted in the seizure of cash, luxury vehicles and electronic devices.

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

Each of the alleged cybercriminals played a different role. Some of them were in charge of breaching an organization’s systems using brute-force attacks, SQL injections, phishing emails and stolen credentials. Others focused on lateral movement and deployment of malware such as Trickbot or post-exploitation frameworks such as PowerShell Empire and Cobalt Strike. Some of the suspects were allegedly in charge of laundering ransom payments.

The malicious hackers used various ransomware families, including LockerGoga, MegaCortex and Dharma.

Norwegian Police said one of the victims of these threat actors was Norwegian metals and energy giant Norsk Hydro, which lost tens of millions of dollars following an attack in 2019.

Just before Europol announced the arrests, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that a Russian national who was allegedly part of a cybercrime group that used the Trickbot malware had been extradited from South Korea to the United States. This was the second Trickbot-related arrest in recent months as part of an operation conducted by the DoJ’s Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force.

The Trickbot suspect, 38-year-old Vladimir Dunaev, faces up to 60 years in prison for his role in the cybercrime operation.

Earlier this month, Europol announced the arrests of two alleged members of a prolific ransomware group in Ukraine. The ransomware was not named at the time due to what the police agency described as “an operational reason.”

Related: Ransomware Takedowns Underscore Need for Private-Public Cybersecurity Collaboration

Related: Ukrainian Suspected of Leading Carbanak Gang Arrested in Spain

Related: Ukraine Arrests ‘Avalanche’ Cybercrime Organizer: Police

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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