Police in Ukraine announced have announced the arrest of a hacker suspected of being the organiser of the global cybercrime network “Avalanche”, which had spread viruses to more than half a million computers and caused losses of several hundred millions of euros until it was broken up in 2016.
“The organiser of the international criminal platform was arrested yesterday (Sunday) in Kiev,” the Ukrainian cyber police said in a statement.
The arrested man has since been named in various media as Hennadiy Kapkanov.
Kapkanov had been on the run since November 2016 after being released by the court following his original arrest. He was wanted in 30 countries and was finally tracked down to an apartment in Kiev where he was taken into custody. Cash, a laptop and computer storage devices were seized in the process.
“Avalanche” was dismantled in November 2016 during a joint operation by police in 28 countries around the world. Europol reported that the network was operating in more than 180 countries, with losses estimated at several “hundreds of millions of euros”.
The criminal network was conducting “online attacks using malware” and “recruiting money launderers for criminal organisations”, according to Europol.
At the request of other criminal groups, the network sent emails containing malware to targeted individuals in order to steal banking data and sensitive passwords. It also launched so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which made brought down servers by overloading them with simultaneous requests.
Around the world, 37 servers had been seized and more than 800,000 domain names blocked in more than 39 that Europol hailed as “one of the biggest” cybercriminal dismantling operations so far.
During his first arrest Kapkanov, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun, engaged in a shootout with police before being taken into custody. He was released because the local judge said the prosecutors had failed to file the charges properly.