CYBERCOPS DERAIL MALWARE BOTNET, FBI MAKES RANSOMWARE ARREST
Techlife News|Techlife News #483
European and North American cyber cops have joined forces to disrupt what may be the world’s largest network for seeding malware infections. The operation appears to strike a major blow against criminal gangs that have used that network for years to install ransomware for extortion schemes and to steal data and money.

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Separately, the FBI announced the arrest Wednesday of a Canadian as part of a bid to disrupt a ransomware gang that has targeted the health care sector, but has also hit municipalities, law enforcement and school districts, mostly in the United States. The FBI said it seized nearly half a million dollars in cryptocurrency.

European Union police and the judicial agencies Europol and Eurojust said Wednesday that investigators took control of the infrastructure behind the botnet known as Emotet. A botnet is a network of hijacked computers typically used for malicious activity; this one has effectively served as a primary door-opener for cybercriminals since 2014.

“This is a really big deal,” said Allan Liska, an analyst with Recorded Future. “Emotet was one of the largest, if not the largest, botnets delivering a wide variety of malware. Their botnet consisted of hundreds of thousands compromised hosts which were used to send more than 10 million spam and phishing emails a week.”

The Emotet model of recent years was “a game-changer for ransomware gangs who otherwise rely on other access methods,” said Jake Williams, president of Rendition Infosec, another cybersecurity firm.

Emotet has allowed ransomware gangs to skip the initial step of penetrating computer networks and instead focus on sowing malware that has crippled networks at Western governments, health care systems and educational institutions. This ransomware scrambles data at the targets, who can only get a decoding software key after paying up. Victims who don’t pay risk having the hackers expose their data publicly.

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