‘Ethical hacker’ among ransomware suspects cuffed by Dutch cops

Dutch police have arrested three men for their alleged involvement with a ransomware gang that stole sensitive data and extorted hundreds of thousands of euros from thousands of companies.

The trio are a 21-year-old man from Zandvoort, whom police identified as the “prime suspect,” a 21-year-old man from Rotterdam, and an 18-year-old man without a permanent residence. The ringleader is said to have made over Є2.5 million ($2.65 million, £2.21 million) over the course of his career.

One of the three reportedly works as an “ethical hacker” for Dutch security organization DIVD, or Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure. DIVD is an association of security researchers that receives government funding, and according to local news reports, lawmakers are considering giving the group a larger role — and more money — to bolster up the nation’s security defenses.

According to the Amsterdam police cybercrime team, the investigation began in March 2021 after a large Dutch company reported a case of data theft that had come accompanied by a ransom demand.

“During the course of the investigation it has become clear that probably thousands of small and large companies and institutions, both national and international, have fallen victim to computer intrusion (hacking) in recent years and subsequently theft and handling of data,” the cops said. “Tens of millions of privacy-sensitive personal data have fallen into the hands of criminals as a result of this theft and trade.”

At the time of capture the criminals were typically demanding more than Є100,000 euros in

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