Europol uncovers malware plot that made $75M in crypto

Europol has announced that it has uncovered a €69 million ($75 million) ‘malware dropping’ plot as part of a worldwide criminal crackdown dubbed ‘Operation Endgame.’

Carried out between May 27 and 29, Endgame, which was led by France, Germany and the Netherlands, targeted droppers such as IcedID, SystemBC, Pikabot, Smokeloader, Bumblebee and Trickbot. It eventually saw four individuals arrested, took down over 100 servers across the globe, and seized over 2,000 domains.

The unnamed individual alleged to have been behind the scheme that raked in $75 million in cryptocurrency, reportedly made their fortune renting out criminal infrastructure and deploying malicious software.

As outlined by Europol, “Malware droppers are a type of malicious software designed to install other malware onto a target system. They are used during the first stage of a malware attack, during which they allow criminals to bypass security measures and deploy additional harmful programs, such as viruses, ransomware, or spyware. Droppers themselves do not usually cause direct damage but are crucial for accessing and implementing harmful softwares on the affected systems.”

According to Europol, “The suspect’s transactions are constantly being monitored and legal permission to seize these assets upon future actions has already been obtained.”

Read more: US sanctions Russian ransomware leader, offers $10M reward

As part of the operation, Europol also collaborated with the United Kingdom, and the United States with support from Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine. 

Earlier this week, the US arrested the alleged perpetrator of a botnet scam that carried out ‘cyber attacks, large-scale fraud, child exploitation, harassment, bomb threats, and export violations.’ According to Chainalysis, the individual made $130 million in crypto through his criminal enterprise. 

Europol has created an Operation Endgame website that features countdowns and announcements related to upcoming police activity. The site currently reads, “This is Season 1 of Operation Endgame. Stay tuned. It sure will be exciting. Maybe not for everyone though.”

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