Police bust Russia-linked international hacking network: Germany
Frankfurt, Germany, March 6, 2023 -German authorities said Monday they have uncovered a hacking network with links to Russia that targeted over 600 victims, including the British healthcare system, in an operation conducted with the FBI and Europe’s policing agency.
After a lengthy investigation, officials raided properties last week in Germany and Ukraine, according to police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which led the probe.
The network is accused of “digital blackmail” and “computer sabotage”, and allegedly targeted its victims with ransomware, extorting large sums from them. German officials said that its first major attack was on the British healthcare system in 2017, and it then targeted a wide range of companies and institutions.
In Germany, its targets included the University Hospital in Duesseldorf and the Funke media group, a major newspaper and magazine publisher. German authorities have issued arrest warrants for three suspected masterminds of the group, who allegedly have links to Russia, and a worldwide hunt was underway for the trio. Dutch and Ukrainian police were also involved in the operation.
The case highlighted the international nature of cyber attacks, for the perpetrators as well as the victims, said senior cybercrime official Markus Hartmann.
“However the success of the operation also shows that we, as law enforcement agencies, are capable of acting internationally.”
Many websites in Germany — from those of companies to airports — have faced cyber attacks in recent months, with Russian hackers sometimes blamed for carrying them out or encouraging them. Germany is on high alert for online sabotage as tensions surge with Russia follow its invasion of Ukraine.