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Two 'Prolific' Ransomware Operators Arrested in Ukraine

Two individuals who were allegedly part of a “prolific” ransomware group have been arrested in Ukraine, Europol and Ukraine’s Cyber Police announced on Monday.

According to Europol, the unnamed suspects were arrested on September 28. A total of seven property searches were carried out and police seized $375,000 in cash and two luxury vehicles. Authorities also announced freezing $1.3 million worth of cryptocurrency.

The law enforcement action was coordinated by Europol and Interpol, and it was carried out with support from the French National Gendarmerie and the FBI.

Europol said the cybercrime gang targeted very large industrial groups in North America and Europe starting in April 2020. The hackers stole sensitive information from victims before encrypting their files. Their ransom demands ranged between €5 and €70 million ($81 million).

The ransomware group the suspects are allegedly part of has not been named due to “an operational reason,” according to a Europol representative. Some have speculated, based on the ransom amount, that it may have been REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware operators.

The Russia-linked REvil operation appeared to go offline in July, following an attack on IT management software maker Kaseya, which impacted many companies that had used Kaseya products. The cybercriminals initially demanded $70 million for a universal decryptor that could supposedly be used to recover the files of all victims.

A press release from Ukraine’s Cyber Police mentions a 25-year-old “hacker” and an accomplice who helped him withdraw the illegally obtained money. A video published alongside the press release shows a man and a woman being present while the search is being conducted.

Ukrainian police noted that searches were conducted at the suspect’s residence and at the homes of their relatives. They said the cybercrime operation targeted 100 companies in North America and Europe, including major energy, tourism and equipment manufacturing companies, with total losses of up to $150 million.

Earlier this year, Ukrainian police announced carrying out nearly two dozen raids targeting alleged associates of a Russian-speaking ransomware gang named Clop.

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.