Europol takes down Ukrainian cyber-crime gang in joint operation

News by Tom Reeve

A major cyber-crime ring in the Ukraine has been taken down in a joint operation involving six different European countries plus Europol and Eurojust.

Five suspects were arrested and eight houses were searched in four cities, resulting in the seizure of computer equipment and other devices which will be subject to forensic examination.

The operation was organised as a joint investigation team (JIT) which can be formed when two or more European countries agree to cooperate for a specific purpose and fixed period of time.

The purpose of this JIT was to target high-level cyber-criminals suspected of developing, exploiting and distributing Zeus and SpyEye trojans, plus channelling and cashing out the proceeds of related crimes.

According to Europol, the suspects targeted online banking systems in Europe and around the world, adapting the malware to each bank they targeted.

The group, whose members each had a speciality, created malware, infected machines, harvested credentials and laundered money through money-mule networks, Europol said.

It's believed the group was very active and infected tens of thousands of computers with banking trojans, and Europol estimates the damage was at least €2 million (£1.4 million).

"In one of the most significant operations coordinated by the agency in recent years Europol worked with an international team of investigators to bring down a very destructive cyber-criminal group. With our international partners, we are committed to fighting the threats brought about by malware and other forms of cyber-crime, to realise safer technology infrastructures and online financial transactions for businesses and people the world over," said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.

"This case demonstrates that it is only possible to combat cyber-crime in a successful and sustainable way if all actors-that means investigative judges and judicial authorities- coordinate and cooperate across the borders,'' Ingrid Maschl-Clausen, National Member of Austria to Eurojust, commented at a press conference in Vienna.

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