In a major effort to combat the growing threat of cyber attacks, an international operation led by Interpol resulted in the takedown of command-and-control (C2) servers across Africa and the Middle East. The operation, known as Synergia, involved 60 law enforcement agencies, including 17 from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.
The operation targeted phishing, banking malware, and ransomware attacks, which have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. In Africa, the largest number of takedowns occurred in South Sudan and Zimbabwe, leading to the arrest of four individuals. In Kuwait, law enforcement worked closely with internet service providers to identify victims, conduct field investigations, and offer technical guidance to mitigate the impacts of cyber attacks.
Interpol collaborated with local law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity firms, including Group-IB, Kaspersky, ShadowServer, Team Cymru, and TrendMicro, on the operation. From September through November, the operation resulted in the arrests of 31 individuals globally and the identification of an additional 70 suspects.
The impact of the operation extended beyond the MEA region, with significant results reported globally. In Europe, 26 individuals were arrested as a result of the takedown of C2 servers, while Hong Kong and Singapore police took down 153 and 86 servers, respectively. In Bolivia, a coordinated effort involving public authorities targeted malware and resulting vulnerabilities.
Overall, the operation identified malicious infrastructure and resources in more than 50 countries, distributed across over 200 web hosting providers around the world. As a result, 70% of the C2 servers have been taken offline, with the rest under investigation.
According to Bernardo Pillot, assistant director to Interpol’s Cybercrime Directorate, the operation demonstrated a collective commitment to safeguarding the digital space. Pillot emphasized the significance of dismantling the infrastructure behind phishing, banking malware, and ransomware attacks as a crucial step in protecting digital ecosystems and ensuring a safer, more secure online experience for all.
The success of the Synergia operation highlights the importance of international collaboration in combatting cyber threats. By bringing together law enforcement agencies, cybersecurity firms, and other partners, Interpol was able to disrupt criminal networks and mitigate the impact of cyber attacks on a global scale.
The operation serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to address the evolving nature of cyber threats and the need for collaborative, coordinated responses to safeguard digital infrastructure and promote cybersecurity. As cyber criminals continue to adapt and evolve their tactics, initiatives like Synergia play a critical role in maintaining the integrity and security of online systems and networks.
Overall, the takedown of C2 servers across Africa, the Middle East, and beyond represents a significant achievement in the fight against cybercrime, sending a clear message that international law enforcement agencies are united in their efforts to combat cyber threats and protect the digital ecosystem.