Ukrainian cops nab husband and wife suspected to be part of $1m ransomware operation

Plus three other suspects nicked in raids today


Ukrainian police have arrested five people on suspicion of operating a ransomware gang, including a husband-and-wife team, following tipoffs from UK law enforcement.

"The organizer of the group, a 36-year-old resident of Kyiv, together with his wife and three acquaintances carried out cyberattacks on foreign companies," cops alleged in a characteristically blunt statement (in Ukrainian).

They claimed "more than 50" companies were targeted by the alleged gang, causing damage estimated at "more than one million US dollars."

"Police officers together with law enforcement officers from Great Britain and the United States of America conducted 9 searches in the homes of the suspects and in their cars. Computer equipment, mobile phones, bank cards, flash drives and three cars were seized," added the statement.

We have asked the National Crime Agency for comment and will update this article if we hear back.

The gang is said to have operated private VPNs, masking users' IP addresses so they could "secretly carry out illegal activities." British bank card holders were then targeted by the crims, who used stolen details to make online purchases.

All suspects were charged with "unauthorised interference in the work of computers" under article 361 of the Ukrainian criminal code, as well as creating or distributing malware and money laundering.

Ukraine has embarked on a spree of arrests of people it says are ransomware suspects. In October two people, rumoured online to have been members of the REvil ransomware gang, were arrested on suspicion of being "prolific ransomware operators."

In June six people alleged to be members of the Clop ransomware gang were nicked – not that this stopped Clop from claiming the credit for hacks after that date.

Last week yet more alleged members of the REvil gang were arrested in various police raids across the European continent, while another, 22-year-old Yaroslav Vasinskyi, was charged by the US with carrying out REvil ransomware attacks. He will face trial after being arrested on the Polish border, seemingly having forgotten that the country has an extradition treaty with the US. ®

Bootnote

Usually Ukrainian cops' arrest statements come with an unintentionally funny YouTube video. Typically this is half an hour of mobile phone footage of people dressed haphazardly in hi-viz stab vests pawing through desk drawers, looking at piles of cash and hard drives, operating PCs and so on. Usually there's a flash sports car or two on the accused's driveway too.

This time round there was no video, but there was a picture of an unremarkable beige Toyota SUV. Perhaps these suspects kept themselves to themselves rather than flaunting any of their ill-gotten gains.

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022