A multinational law enforcement operation gave internet users a big gift just in time for the holiday season! In late November, Europol, the FBI, and several other organizations around the world worked together to takedown Avalanche – an international crime network behind cyber attacks that some estimates say have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages since 2009.
The network allowed criminals to conduct malware and money laundering campaigns throughout the globe. By providing criminals with hosting services and other infrastructure, Avalanche helped attackers send over one million malicious emails each week in order to spread malware to individuals and companies. Exact numbers for the extent of damage Avalanche inflicted on victims are unavailable. But according to Europol, Avalanche helped criminals cause over 6 million euros in damage to financial institutions in Germany alone.
The takedown resulted in seized servers, searched premises, and even a few arrests. F-Secure Labs helped support the multinational effort by sharing their malware analysis expertise with law enforcement officials.
“The analysts on our Threat Intelligence team often provide law enforcement with technical assistance for their investigations. When asked to participate, we reviewed thousands of samples seized from Avalanche to validate law enforcement’s analysis,” says F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan. “Matching the seized samples with what we have in our malware database helped law enforcement verify that those files were not only harmful, but that the industry was detecting them and able to help victims.”
Avalanche hosted what the US Justice Department described as over “two dozen of the world’s most pernicious types of malicious software”. Some of the more notorious malware families hosted by Avalanche included the Dridex and GameOver Zeus banking trojans.
Anyone that thinks they could be infected by these or other types of malware can use F-Secure’s free Online Scanner to help them clean their PCs of many different types of malware infections. And since most malware (besides ransomware) runs silently alongside your regular programs, running something like Online Scanner is necessary if you’re not already using a reliable AV program.
”Collaboration between the industry and law enforcement is the only realistic way to fight cyber crime,” adds Sean. “And even though this is good, it’s not like we’ve defeated online crime. Cyber crime services are a big industry, and the criminals using Avalanche will probably spend Christmas shopping for new tools to use in 2017.”
[ Image by Pierre Honeyman| Flickr ]