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Law enforcement operation takes aim at an often-overlooked cybercrime linchpin

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An international cast of law enforcement agencies has struck a blow at a cybercrime linchpin that’s as obscure as it is instrumental in the mass-infection of devices: so-called droppers, the sneaky software that’s used to install ransomware, spyware, and all manner of other malware.

Europol said Wednesday it made four arrests, took down 100 servers, and seized 2,000 domain names that were facilitating six of the best-known droppers. Officials also added eight fugitives linked to the enterprises to Europe’s Most Wanted list. The droppers named by Europol are IcedID, SystemBC, Pikabot, Smokeloader, Bumblebee, and Trickbot.

Droppers provide two specialized functions. First, they use encryption, code-obfuscation, and similar techniques to cloak malicious code inside a packer or other form of container. These containers are then put into email attachments, malicious websites, or alongside legitimate software available through malicious web ads. Second, the malware droppers serve as specialized botnets that facilitate the installation of additional malware.

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