In connection with the international hacker network "Double Spider", the police have searched suspects in southern Germany and Ukraine. Cybercrime specialists from the North Rhine-Westphalian State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) and the U.S. Secret Service have located a 44-year-old in Ukraine and a 45-year-old in southern Germany, the LKA announced in Düsseldorf on Monday.
The 45-year-old from southern Germany is suspected of having received the money extorted during the cyberattacks. During last week's action, the suspects remained at large. Two Russians are still considered to be the main suspects and masterminds.
In Germany, the hacker network is said to be responsible, among other things, for the blackmail of the University Hospital Düsseldorf, the attack on the Funke Media Group and other well-known companies. The accusations against the main perpetrators are: commercial, digital extortion and computer sabotage.
More than 600 victims worldwide
Worldwide, more than 600 victims are said to have been extorted, some of them for tens of millions. The first known attack of this kind was directed against the British healthcare system in May 2017. It is said to have been carried out by a precursor group.
In March, North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) pointed to links to the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB and the paramilitary mercenary group Wagner. The assumption is that the acts were at least tolerated by Russia.
The two main suspects, who were named last March, are on Europol's "Most Wanted" wanted list. A woman who had been named as the third suspect in March has since been removed from the list. The suspicion against them had not been substantiated.
In Germany, the group is said to have attacked and damaged at least 37 institutions. A number of unreported cases can be assumed because there are still companies that pay ransoms without involving the police, it was said in March. 13 EU countries are affected.