Investigators from six different European countries, supported by Europol and Eurojust, joined together to bring down a cybercriminal group in Ukraine.
Europol announced late last week that the action, which took place in Ukraine on June 18 and 19, resulted in five suspects being arrested, eight houses searched across four cities, and the confiscation of computer equipment and other devices for further investigation.
The joint investigation team (JIT) targeted the high-level cybercriminals and their accomplices because they were suspected of creating and distributing two banking Trojans, known as Zeus and SpyEye. Europol confirmed the group is believed to be behind the malware, as well as channeling and cashing out the profits from its use.
"The cybercriminals used malware to attack online banking systems in Europe and beyond, adapting their sophisticated banking Trojans over time to defeat the security measures implemented by the banks,” Europol reported.
According to the release, the active criminal group worked in countries across all continents targeting major banks, ultimately infecting tens of thousands of computers and producing an estimated €2 million ($2.2 million) in damages.
“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 cybercriminal group. With our international partners, we are committed to fighting the threats brought about by malware and other forms of cybercrime to realize safer technology infrastructures and online financial transactions for businesses and people the world over,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in the release.
The recent effort was part of a broader investigation launched by the JIT members (Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom) back in 2013. To date, the operation has resulted in the arrests of 60 individuals — more than half of which were involved in a “money mule” network taken down by Dutch law enforcement authorities.
In the release, Ingrid Maschl-Clausen, a national member of Austria to Eurojust, commended the job of the investigation, noting how the case “demonstrates that it is only possible to combat cybercrime in a successful and sustainable way if all actors — that means investigative judges and judicial authorities — coordinate and cooperate across the borders."