The European policing agency says 12 people suspected of being involved in ransomware attacks against “critical infrastructure” across the world were "targeted" in raids in Ukraine and Switzerland earlier this week.
“These attacks are believed to have affected over 1,800 victims in 71 countries. These cyber actors are known for specifically targeting large corporations, effectively bringing their business to a standstill,” Europol said in a statement on October 29.
It was not immediately clear whether any of the suspects was detained in the October 26 operation, which Europol said was the result of cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities in the United States, Ukraine, and six other European countries, together with Europol and Eurojust, the European Union's agency for judicial cooperation.
Most of the suspects are considered “high-value targets” because they are being investigated in multiple high-profile cases in different jurisdictions, according to the agency.
"The targeted suspects all had different roles in these professional, highly organized criminal organizations," it said, with some responsible for hacking and others for laundering proceeds via cryptocurrency.
Europol said authorities seized more than $52,000 in cash during the raids, five luxury cars, and electronic devices that are being examined.
It did not name the companies that were allegedly hit by the ransomware demands, but Norwegian police said in a separate statement that metals maker Norsk Hydro was among them.
Norsk Hydro suffered a ransomware attack in 2019 that paralyzed parts of its production, police said, adding that the company refused to pay the hackers, but suffered losses amounting to $94.5 million as a result of disruptions to its operations.
Suspects 'Targeted' In Ukraine, Switzerland In High-Profile Ransomware Cases