Posted on February 27, 2023 at 2:41 PM
Dutch law enforcement authorities have confirmed the arrest of three individuals. The three individuals were linked to a “large-scale” criminal enterprise where they engaged in illegal activities such as data theft, extortion, and money laundering.
Dutch police arrest three hackers
Hacking attacks have become prevalent in recent years. Cybercriminals are targeting both individuals and corporations to extort funds from them. Fighting cybercriminals has been a challenge for law enforcement authorities because of the sophisticated hacking methods used by these attackers.
However, the Dutch police have been actively pursuing cyber criminals. They have managed to arrest three threat actors involved in a wide-scale hacking attack and multiple violations of financial laws, including money laundering.
The three arrested individuals include two 21-year-old males based in Zandvoort and Rotterdam. The third individual is an 18-year-old male with no permanent residence. The Dutch authorities arrested the said individuals on January 23, 2023.
It is believed that the three hackers were involved in massive data theft. They stole personal data belonging to tens of millions of individuals. The stolen data includes names, telephone numbers, addresses, dates of birth, bank account details, passwords, credit cards, license plates, social security numbers, and passport information.
The Dutch police said that the arrest of the three individuals was attributed to its cybercrime unit. This team commenced investigations into the hacking attacks around two years ago. The investigations commenced in March 2021 after one of the largest companies in the country was targeted by a hacking attack.
The authorities did not disclose the company’s name targeted by the breach. Nevertheless, the reported breach’s timeframe matched with cyberattacks that targeted companies such as Shell, RDC, and Ticketcounter. Ticketcounter was also the victim of an extortion attempt.
The agency said that while conducting these investigations, it was apparent that the hackers targeted small and large companies. The hackers mainly targeted these companies to steal data that could later be used to extort individuals or breach companies.
“During the course of the investigation, it has become clear that thousands of small and large companies and institutions, both national and international, have fallen victim to computer intrusion (hacking) in recent years, followed by theft and handling of data,” the Dutch authorities said.
The hacking activities conducted by these cybercriminal groups target multiple industries, including e-commerce, software, catering, training institutes, and social media. The hacking attacks also pose a danger to domestic security because they also target critical infrastructure.
Hackers were launching sophisticated attacks
The Dutch authorities said that the hacking campaign conducted by the hackers was a “sophisticated” one. The authorities also noted that the threat actors demanded ransom from the companies they targeted, with the ransom amount paid in Bitcoin.
The threat actors threatened to release the stolen information to the public if the ransom amount was not paid. In some cases, they extorted companies by threatening to destroy their digital infrastructure, which would incur these companies millions in damages.
The hackers demanded a different amount of ransom from every targeted company. However, the demanded ransom ranged between 100,000 euros to 700,000 euros. Moreover, while some companies agreed to pay the ransom, the hackers failed to keep their end of the deal and ended up selling the data.
The information stolen by these individuals was sensitive. This meant that it could be sold to other hacking groups that could use it to conduct social engineering attacks and other fraudulent activities.
The authorities noted that data theft and trading the stolen data was a major revenue model for cybercriminals. The Dutch police noted that these hackers not only obtained money from the companies by extorting them but also sold the data to other cybercriminals that had the means of conducting more sophisticated and targeted attacks.
The authorities also pointed out how the stolen datasets were refined and filtered. They noted that this was being done to make these datasets easily searchable so that the threat actors could find more appealing targets and launch coordinated cyberattacks.
The law enforcement agency has further said that the nature of the criminal activity was evolving. Criminals were no longer out on the streets. Instead, they were sitting in front of computer screens, looking for potential victims that they could target.