For Interpol, this is the “most harmful” ransomware in the world. From now on, police around the world will perhaps be able to talk about it in the past tense. “Operation Cronos”, involving the police authorities of ten countries including France, announced on Tuesday February 20 that they had succeeded in “dismantling” the activities of the group of cybercriminals behind LockBit, often considered ransomware - viruses designed to block infected computers until a ransom is paid - the most used by hackers.

“After infiltrating the group's network, the NCA (British crime agency) took control of LockBit's services, compromising their entire criminal enterprise,” the NCA said in a statement. According to her, the ransomware targeted “thousands of victims around the world” and caused losses amounting to billions of euros.

Several tens of thousands of computers taken hostage

The police operation made it possible to close more than 30 servers which allowed cybercriminals to deploy their ransomware of mass destruction. Europol does not specify in its press release whether or not there remain other servers used to deploy LockBit around the world. Two individuals linked to this criminal gang were also arrested in Ukraine and Poland at the request of French police authorities.

🚨 Europol & law enforcement from 10 countries disrupt world's biggest ransomware operation.

💻 LockBit, seen as the world's most prolific and harmful ransomware, caused billions of euros worth of damage.

More information ⤵️

— Europol (@Europol) February 20, 2024

For police around the world, this operation represents a very serious blow to the very lucrative ransomware market. LockBit, which emerged in 2019, has been used to hold tens of thousands of computers around the world hostage. In France, one of the most high-profile attacks carried out thanks to LockBit targeted the South Ile-de-France Hospital Center (CHSF) in Corbeil-Essonnes in 2022. The group of cybercriminals then demanded a ransom of 10 million euros.

Also read: Cyber ​​attack on a hospital: a classic operating method but excessive demands

Worldwide, LockBit has targeted critical infrastructure and large industrial groups, with ransom demands ranging from 5 to 70 million euros. In 2023, the group notably attacked the British postal operator and a Canadian children's hospital.

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