The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed details of its role in an international operation over the weekend against the cyber criminals behind the Blackshade ransomware campaign.
Blackshade is a nasty attack that can take over a user's webcam, access files, share itself over peers and infect USB devices.
The NCA, together with the UK Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), Police Scotland and the Metropolitan Police, arrested 17 suspects in Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow as part of Europol-led crack-down.
In total over 80 people were arrested and over 1,000 storage devices confiscated after raids in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, the US, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Italy, Moldova and Switzerland.
The arrests occured last Tuesday and Wednesday, Interpol told V3.
Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit said the arrests showed criminals could hide online anymore.
"Criminals throughout the UK and across the world are finding out that committing crimes remotely offers no protection from arrest. The unique scale of this cyber operation shows what can happen when law enforcement agencies at local, national and international level work together to tackle the perpetrators and help keep people safe," he said
"Cyber crime is one of the most significant criminal threats to the UK. The NCA is helping to build the capacity of its partners across the country and co-ordinating the UK's collective efforts as part of the response."
Troels Oerting, head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol said the arrests proved that the international community was now able to effectively work together to tackle cyber crooks.
“This case is yet another example of the critical need for coordinated law enforcement operations against the growing number of cyber criminals operating on an EU and global level," he said.
"EC3 will continue - together with Eurojust and other partners - to work tirelessly to support our partners in the fight against fraudsters and other cyber criminals who take advantage of the Internet to commit crime."
Security expert Chris Boyd of Malwarebytes welcomed the intervention, explaining that Blackshade represents a big threat to end-users.
“Working together to knock down doors will serve as a very visible warning to anyone looking to exploit people using nefarious software,” he said.
“Blackshades is a piece of software because it essentially gives the controller complete access to all files on a victim's computer, even allowing webcam access. This means it can be used for blackmail and extortion on a very personal level."
The risks from ransomware have been well documented, with Microsoft recently warning that use of the notorious Reveton ransomware doubled in the past 12 months.
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