Suspected hackers arrested in global ransomware crackdown

Two suspected hackers accused of ransomware attacks resulting in 5,000 infections have been arrested as part of a global cybercrime crackdown, Europol announced Monday.

The two, who were not identified by name, were arrested last week by Romanian authorities. Officials say the attacks, linked to the ransomware gang known as REvil, yielded about half a million euros in ransom payments.

The arrests were part of a law enforcement investigation called GoldDust that involved the United States and 16 other countries. REvil, also known as Sodinokibi, has been linked in recent months to ransomware targeting the world’s largest meat processor, JBS SA, as well as a Fourth of July weekend attack that snarled businesses around the world.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco appeared to foreshadow Monday’s announcement in an interview with The Associated Press last week, saying that “in the days and weeks to come, you’re going to see more arrests.”

The Justice Department has tried multiple ways to address a ransomware wave that it regards as a national security and economic threat. Arrests of foreign hackers are significant for the Justice Department since many of them operate in the refuge of countries that do not extradite their own citizens to the U.S. for prosecution.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, Monaco and FBI Director Christopher Wray were expected to appear at a Monday afternoon news conference at the Justice Department to make what officials said would be a “significant” law enforcement announcement.

The Justice Department in June seized $2.3 million in cryptocurrency from a payment made by Colonial Pipeline following a ransomware attack that caused the company to temporarily halt operations, creating fuel shortages in parts of the country.

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