In an attempt to bring down the infamous DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) Bitcoin extortion group DD4BC, law enforcers from across Europe have joined forces using a closely coordinated operations that has led to the arrest of a key target connected with the group.
In a statement by Europol, Operation Pleiades was very successful and resulted in one arrest, custody of another suspect, as well as the seizure of "extensive amount of evidence" from various property searches.
DD4BC is well known for its cybercriminal activity, extorting money from online gambling, financial services, and other firms. They threated such established online companies with DDoS attacks unless they pay them in Bitcoins. The group is exploiting the popularity of the pseudonymous payment mechanism and has been responsible for Bitcoin extortions since 2014, mainly targeting online gambling industries.
Recently, DD4BC extortion activity have broadened their extortion activity to financial services, high-profile companies, and entertainment sector. Businesses that pay the ransom have the risk of appealing vulnerable and being targeted again for a higher amount.
Wil van Gemert, Europol's Deputy Director Operations said, "Law enforcement and its partners have to act now to ensure that the cyberspace affecting nearly every part of our daily life is secure against new threats posed by malicious groups. These groups employ aggressive measures to silence the victims with the threat of public exposure and reputation damage. Without enhanced reporting mechanisms law enforcement is missing vital means to protect companies and users from recurring cyber-attacks. Police actions such as Operation Pleiades highlight the importance of incident reporting and information sharing between law enforcement agencies and the targets of DDoS and extortion attacks."
The action was initiated on December 15 and 16 by law enforcement agencies from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, and the United Kingdom joined forces with Europol to create an operation framework against the extortion group. Police in Australia, France Japan Romania, Switzerland, the US, and the Interpol were also involved in the operation.