European and North American authorities disrupt massive ransomware network
European and North American police on Wednesday took control of the infrastructure behind a massive network used by criminals to conduct cybercrime, the AP reports.
Why it matters: By claiming the infrastructure, authorities dealt a major blow to cyber criminals who use Emotet — one of the world's largest networks of hijacked computers — to install ransomware as part of extortion schemes and financial theft heists.
- Ransomware works by scrambling a victim's data, allowing criminals to demand money in exchange for decoding software to repair the data.
The big picture: European Union police and the judicial agencies Europol and Eurojus, two Hague-based agencies, coordinated the operation with authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, the U.K., France, Lithuania, Canada and Ukraine.
Meanwhile: The FBI announced Wednesday that it arrested a Canadian as part of a bid to disrupt the ransomware gang NetWalker, which it said had targeted the health care sector. Included in the arrest was the seizure of nearly half a million dollars in cryptocurrency.
Thought bubble, via Zach Dorfman of the Aspen Institute: The sheer number of countries involved and scale of the operation and coordination headaches shows how serious a challenge cyber criminal groups and botnets have become.
- As Wired notes, it was a “global effort” that took down command-and-control infrastructure in 90 countries.
- And unlike a joint public-private action last year designed to hobble the massive Trickbot botnet, the move against Emotet appears aimed at permanently crushing it.
Go deeper: The rise and rise of ransomware