Authorities have detained 11 individuals thought to be responsible for the proliferation of a nasty "police ransomware" virus which demanded users pay €100 ($135 USD) to re-gain access to their infected PCs. Amongst the 11 caught -- a crew of Ukrainians, Georgians and Russians -- the malware syndicate's founder was also apprehended.
Image taken from: malwaretips.com
The obtrusive malware would hijack computers by disabling users' ability to interact with programs and files. Additionally, the ransomware would threaten users, stating they were under investigation by their respective country's law enforcement agency for accessing child pornography and other illegal materials online. The virus offered victims a way out of the mess though, by way of purchasing pre-paid money cards to pay a fine for breaking the law.
According to officials, the unscrupulous outfit generated at least $1.3 million annually -- proof that cybercrime does pay, providing you get away with it. The revenue came as quickly as the malware spread, with roughly 3 percent of affected users actually paying the 100 euro ransom in hopes of freeing their hostaged computers. The virus spread to about 30 countries throughout most of Europe.
The malware syndicate had been headquartered in the Mediterranean resort cities of Benalmadena and Torremolinos. While Spanish authorities apprehended the majority of the group, their founder was waylaid by officials while visiting the United Arab Emirates.
Europol, a European Union law enforcement agency, stated the operation was the, "largest and most complex cybercrime network dedicated to spreading police ransomware."