Europol takes down cybercriminal ring
The battle between law enforcement agencies and international cybercriminal organizations continues to wage unabated. At times, it can seem like the cybercriminals have the advantage in this fight. According to a report issued by the Online Trust Alliance, 1,478 security breaches were reported worldwide in 2012. That number represents a 35 percent increase of reported incidents over the previous year. Those incidents resulted in the exposure of 242 million records. One European police agency, however, recently struck a major blow to the criminal element when it took down a Russian network of cyberthieves.
The New York Times reported that Spanish police arrested 10 people in connection with a criminal operation that is said to have stolen millions of euros across more than 30 countries and multiple continents. Six of the suspects have been charged with fraud, money laundering and involvement in a criminal organization. Charges against the other four suspects are pending completion of the investigation. Spanish police also confiscated more than 200 credit cards and several computers at the Costa del Sol location, which authorities believe was the group's base of operations.
The European law enforcement agency, Europol, launched an investigation into the criminal organization after it received reports of more than 20,000 people from six countries falling victim to the group's scheme. Authorities say the cybercriminals used ransomware to extort millions of dollars from those infected with the group's virus. The ransomware locked an infected computer and sent a fake message from law enforcement agencies accusing the user of engaging in illegal activity. The message demanded a fine of 100 euros be paid in order to unlock the computer. However, in many instances, computer access is not regained until the virus is removed.
With the number of cyberthreats growing by the day, it is imperative that businesses and individuals alike keep their network defenses and anti-virus protocols up to date. It is also advisable that users avoid suspicious sites that may harbor the malware. Updating standard defenses like SSL certificates is always recommended to increase overall cybersecurity.
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