By Hajare El Khaldi
By Hajare El Khaldi
Rabat- The alleged mastermind behind EUR 1 billion robbery from a hundred banks in forty countries, was arrested in Spain, stated Europol on March 26.
Lead by its Ukrainian mastermind identified as Denis K, the cyber burglary network used malware, known as Carbank and Cobalt, which allowed the hackers to control ATMs and divert money to their own accounts before laundering it through cryptocurrencies.
“The mastermind of a group of hackers took control of the banking identity system, which allowed them to empty ATM machines or switch accounts resulting in transfers of great importance,”declared a statement from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.
According to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), the pirates were able to remotely control ATMs, which they programmed to distribute money at a specific time, while accomplices waited next to the machines.
The criminal network targeted ATMs in the centre of Madrid in early 2017, making an extraction worth EUR 500 million, reported the Spanish Ministry of Interior. Though the attacks spanned forty countries, the majority of the cyber burglaries targeted the Russian banking industry, conducted in partnership with the Russian mafia.
Using sophisticated malware, the cyberthieves would email bank employees with malicious attachments, pretending to be legitimate businesses.
Once downloaded, the malware allowed the criminal organization to control infected computers and access the internal banking network and the servers controlling ATM machines.
After completing each operation, which yielded over USD 1.5 million on average, profits were immediately converted into virtual currency, allowing them to buy goods, including luxury cars and houses.
The investigation has been led by the Spanish police, in cooperation with Europol, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Belarusian, Taiwanese, Moldovan, and Romanian authorities, in addition to private cyber security companies.
“This is the first time that the European Banking Federation (EBF) has actively cooperated with Europol on a specific case,” declared Wim Mijs, the EBF chief executive, as quoted in Europol’s statement.
“The public-public cooperation is actively working to fight cross-border digital crime,” he added.
Morocco has recently become part of a EUR 3.35 million European Union project, which aims to toughen legislations on cybercrime in Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco.