Met Makes Three Arrests In Ransomware Crackdown

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

The Metropolitan Police looks to combat rise of the ransomware

London police made three arrests yesterday as part of a probe into the growing menace that is ransomware.

Ransomware locks people out of their computers and asks for restitution to unlock the system. Some variants claim to come from a police force, including the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), claiming the user has done something illegal online, and even threatening victims with recorded messages.

Ransomware wars

Arrest, court, legal © rimira Shutterstock 2012Now the PCeU is biting back, announcing this morning they had searched three addresses, arresting a 34-year-old man and 30-year-old woman from Stoke on Trent, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and possession of items for use in fraud.

Another 26-year-old-man  from the same area was apprehended on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. ALl three remain in custody at Staffordshire police station.

“The arrests shows we are determined to combat this type of crime. I remind all computer users that police do not use such a method to impose or enforce fines, so if you are confronted by such a page do not enter any of your details,” said Detective Inspector Jason Tunn, from the PCeU.

Earlier this year, Symantec warned of a resurgence in ransomware in western Europe and in the US. The security firm said some ransomare crooks had made at least $5 million (£3.1m) in the past year.

Last week, Sophos reported a spike in ransomware in 2012, noting that a growing number of infections fully encrypt users’ hard drives. It warned IT professionals that the problem would not disappear in 2013. Instead, increasing sophistication looks more likely.

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