Based on a French international arrest warrant, a 25-year-old French coder has been arrested by the Royal Thai Police. The young cyber criminal played a key role in an attempt by the hacker group calling itself Rex Mundi to ransom an unnamed British company. In May 2017, the company was the victim of a cyber-attack during which a large amount of customer data was compromised. After the initial attack, the company was then subjected to cyber extortion, one of the most common tactics used by cyber criminals.
Ransom to be Paid in Bitcoin
Shortly after the attack, a French-speaking member of Rex Mundi contacted the business claiming responsibility for the attack and demanding a hefty sum of cash to be paid in Bitcoin. The hacker offered the company two options; to either hand over EUR 580,000 for the non-disclosure of the customer data or to pay EUR 825,000 for information on the breach and how to handle it. After providing details to verify his claim that he indeed have access to the compromised data, he threatened the company further by saying that for each day it failed to pay there would be a ransom of EUR 210,000.
International Cooperation Key to Justice
Based on information from the Metropolitan Police Force, the French National Police (High Tech Crime Unit Central Office OCLCTIC-DCPJ) and Europol initiated international cooperation and moved swiftly to track the group. Within an hour, Europol’s 24/7 Operational Centre was able to link the available information to a French national. In June 2017, five individuals were arrested by the French authorities, at which point the main suspect admitted his role in the blackmail saying that he had hired a hacker on the dark web to carry out the cyber attack. His admission resulted in the arrest of two French hackers later that year and then the arrest of the young French coder in Thailand.