5 arrested in Romania for spreading ransomware in U.S., Europe

Romanian officials have arrested five people they believe are responsible for one of the most widespread ransomware crimes ever, authorities said Wednesday.

Romanian officials said Wednesday five people were arrested, believed to be responsible for one of the most widespread ransomware schemes ever. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA
Romanian officials said Wednesday five people were arrested, believed to be responsible for one of the most widespread ransomware schemes ever. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

Officials said the group of five were arrested on suspicion of unauthorized computer access, serious hindering of a computer system, misuse of devices with the intent of committing cyber crimes and blackmail.

A device compromised with ransomware will not function until the user pays a price.

Officials believe three of the suspects infected computer systems by spreading the Curve-Tor-Bitcoin Locker malware. The other two are believed to be involved with spreading Cerber, a ransomware focused on extorting money from users in the United States.

The five suspects did not design the software but are believed to have paid the designers 30 percent of their take.

According to computer security software company McAfee, CTB-Locker was the widest used ransomware in 2016. In July, Google ranked Cerber as the most criminally profitable ransomware, with a haul of nearly $7 million from victims.

By Susan McFarland