Europol on Monday announced the arrest of a Ukrainian man named as the mastermind of a gang behind hundreds of cyberattacks that have netted around a billion euros from banks.
The man was detained in Alicante after carrying out attacks using computer malware such as "Carbanak" and "Cobalt," according to Europol, which praised the cooperation of Spanish Police as well as the FBI, Romanian, Belarusian and Taiwanese authorities and private cyber security firms.
The crooks sent phishing emails to bank employees with attachments pretending that they came from legitimate firms.
Once the malicious software had been downloaded it would allow the criminals to control infected computers remotely and gain access to the internal banking network as well as servers controlling ATM cashpoints from where "money mules" would collect the cash.
Some profits from the heists were laundered via cryptocurrencies, using prepaid cards linked to cryptocurrency wallets, investigators said.
From 2013, when it launched the Anunak malware programme, the gang attacked banks, e-payment systems and financial institutions in more than 40 countries, resulting "in cumulative losses of over €1 billion for the financial industry," said Europol.