Police officers from Ukraine, the U.S. and France detained a 25-year-old hacker in Kyiv on Sept. 28 to stop a massive cybercrime that caused more than $150 million in damage worldwide.

The suspect allegedly demanded ransom in exchange for the victims’ stolen data, the police said on Oct. 4. To get this data, the hacker is believed to have sent malware-infected phishing emails to employees of the companies he targeted.

According to the police, the cybercriminal, who was not identified, hacked over 100 businesses, including world-famous energy and tourism companies, in Europe and the U.S.

According to Europol, the hacker had an accomplice who helped him to withdraw money obtained from victims.

In the suspect’s  Scandinavian-styled Kyiv apartment, law enforcement officers found and confiscated $375,000 in cash, two luxury vehicles, computers and mobile phones he allegedly used.


Usually, hackers demand ransom in cryptocurrency since virtual transactions are hard to trace. During the searches at the criminal’s apartment, the police found out that the Ukrainian cyber-criminal owned nearly $1.3 million in cryptocurrency.

For violating computer crime and money-laundering laws he could face up to twelve years in prison, the police said.

Ukrainian law enforcement agents raiding the home of a hacker who caused $150 million damage to global firms on Oct. 4, 2021. (cyberpolice.gov.ua)

Governments around the world are trying to curb the growing number of ransomware attacks that have turned into a business in recent years. Hackers, usually based in Eastern Europe, target foreign businesses, universities, government agencies and even critical infrastructure like hospitals and gas stations.

Ransomware attacks caused $20 billion in damages in 2021, up from $325 million in 2015. Ukraine reported over 1.7 million cyberattacks on government services since the beginning of 2021; the number of cyberattacks in the country grows by 10% every month.

Ukrainian and Russian hackers rarely target their own countries — they prefer to infect computers in Western Europe or the U.S. Ukrainian hackers are young, aged between 15 and 30; they usually have no criminal records and have an advanced understanding of information technology and math. Their monthly salary starts from $5,000 — much more than the $2,000 that tech specialists can earn in Ukraine.

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