Spanish police bust alleged “ransomware” ring that took in $1.34M annually

Spanish authorities announced Wednesday that they had arrested 10 people who were allegedly involved in a massive “ransomware” ring. The European Cybercrime Centre estimated that the criminal operation "affected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, bringing in profits in excess of €1 million ($1.34 million) per year."

The Spanish Ministry of the Interior described (Google Translate) the lead suspect as a “a 27-year-old citizen of Russian origin who was arrested in December in the United Arab Emirates,” and now awaits extradition to Spain. The newly arrested 10 were linked to the financial cell of the ransomware operation and include six Russians, two Ukrainians, and two Georgians. The Ministry added that the operation remains “open,” suggesting that more arrests could be forthcoming. (Spanish authorities posted a video (RAR) of the new arrests and raid.)

Madrid dubbed the ransomware used by the ring a “police virus” because it throws up a notice that appears to come from law enforcement. The malware requires the user to pay €100 ($134) as a “fine” from a false accusation of accessing child pornography or file-sharing websites. When the victims submit their payment details, European authorities added, the “criminals then go on to steal data and information from the victim’s computer.”

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