SPAIN’S Civil Guard has arrested two international hackers in Alicante province who used ransomware to attack 168 different companies.
The operation was carried out in conjunction with Europol, and targeted a criminal organisation called Ragnar Locker, which specialises in extorting firms by taking control of their computer systems and data.
The major international operation involved 11 different countries, and saw the two suspects arrested in the cities of Torrevieja and Alicante, as well as a third arrest made in Latvia.
The alleged creator of the ransomware software being used by the hackers was located in Czech Republic, according to a statement from the Spanish Civil Guard, while a number of searches were also carried out in Ukraine.
The raids carried out by the police yielded computer equipment used by the criminals, as well as funds stored in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, litecoin and binance coin.
Ransomware attacks work by hackers using malware to encrypt a company’s data, demanding a payment before they will grant a password to recover the information.
The criminal group targeted in the operation is alleged to have attacked critical infrastructure, such as the Portuguese national airline and a hospital in Israel.
The gang would demand huge payments from the targeted firms if they wanted their systems back, as well as threatening to publish stolen data if the companies went to the police.