Police arrest 11 for €1m-a-year ransomware attack
By Dave Stevenson
Posted on 14 Feb 2013 at 13:15
European police have arrested 11 members of a ransomware gang for spreading viruses that tricked users into paying millions of euros.
The viruses locked infected computers and told users they had been convicted of viewing pirated films or child pornography and required the user to pay an average fine of €100 (about £86).
According to Europol, 3% of those infected paid, generating millions for the criminal ring. Messages arrived at target computers in the destination’s local language, and used the official seal of the local police force to dupe people into believing the messages were genuine.
The author of the virus was arrested in Dubai in December, and ten more people have now been detained in the south of Spain, according to the Spanish secretary of state for security, Francisco Martinez.
Europol described the gang as "the largest and most complex cybercrime network dedicated to spreading police ransomware". The agency’s director, Rob Wainright, said it was "impossible to know" how many were affected by the gang, but said the number of affected Europeans could reach the hundreds of thousands.
Europol hasn't estimated a total for the profit generated by the gang, but said "if we take into account that the average fine was €100, and 3%... paid it, then the estimated damage is millions of euros".
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