Between May 27 and 29, 2024, an international operation known as “Operation Endgame” successfully targeted and disrupted a significant portion of the global botnet ecosystem. This massive operation, led by Europol and involving law enforcement agencies from multiple countries, focused on dismantling infrastructure used by various malware droppers, resulting in significant arrests and the takedown of numerous servers worldwide.

Scope and Impact of the Operation

Operation Endgame, coordinated from Europol’s headquarters, specifically targeted malware droppers including IcedID, SystemBC, Pikabot, Smokeloader, and Bumblebee. These droppers play a critical role in enabling ransomware and other malicious software attacks. The operation led to the following key outcomes:

  • Arrests: Four individuals were arrested (one in Armenia and three in Ukraine).
  • Searches: 16 locations were searched across Armenia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Ukraine.
  • Infrastructure Takedown: Over 100 servers were taken down or disrupted across various countries, including Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ukraine.
  • Domain Seizures: More than 2,000 domains were brought under law enforcement control.

These efforts culminated in the largest-ever operation against botnets, significantly impacting the deployment capabilities of ransomware and other cyber threats.

International Collaboration and Support

The success of Operation Endgame was made possible through extensive international cooperation. Initiated and led by France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the operation received support from Eurojust and involved participation from Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Additionally, Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, and Ukraine contributed through arrests, suspect interviews, searches, and server takedowns.

Numerous private partners at both national and international levels, including Bitdefender, Cryptolaemus, Sekoia, Shadowserver, and others, also supported the operation.

Key Figures and Findings

Investigations revealed that one of the primary suspects had accumulated at least EUR 69 million in cryptocurrency by renting out infrastructure to deploy ransomware. Legal measures have been taken to monitor and potentially seize these assets.

Understanding Malware Droppers

Malware droppers are crucial in the early stages of a cyber attack. They install additional malicious software on target systems, facilitating further harmful activities such as ransomware deployment, data theft, and more. Here’s how they operate:

  • Infiltration: Droppers enter systems via email attachments, compromised websites, or bundled with legitimate software.
  • Execution: Once executed, they install additional malware without the user’s knowledge.
  • Evasion: They avoid detection through various techniques such as code obfuscation and impersonating legitimate processes.
  • Payload Delivery: After deploying the malware, droppers may deactivate or remove themselves to avoid detection.

Continued Efforts and Future Actions

Operation Endgame is not a one-off initiative. Ongoing actions and future announcements will be posted on the Operation Endgame website. Efforts will continue to track and apprehend suspects involved in botnet activities who remain at large.

Command and Coordination

Europol played a pivotal role in facilitating information exchange and providing analytical and forensic support. Over 20 law enforcement officers from Denmark, France, Germany, and the United States coordinated operational actions from Europol’s command post. A virtual command post ensured real-time coordination among officers deployed in Armenia, France, Portugal, and Ukraine.

Eurojust supported judicial cooperation by setting up a coordination center to facilitate the execution of European Arrest Warrants and Investigation Orders.

National Authorities and Partners Involved

The operation involved numerous national authorities from both EU and non-EU member states, including:

  • France: National Gendarmerie, National Police, Cybercrime Unit
  • Germany: Federal Criminal Police Office, Cyber Crime Center
  • Netherlands: National Police, Public Prosecution Office
  • United Kingdom: National Crime Agency
  • United States: FBI, Secret Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Department of Justice
  • Portugal: Judicial Police
  • Ukraine: Prosecutor General’s Office, National Police, Security Service

Private partners included Bitdefender, Cryptolaemus, Sekoia, Shadowserver, and others.


Operation Endgame marks a significant milestone in the fight against cybercrime, demonstrating the power of international collaboration and coordinated action. The disruption of major botnet infrastructures and the arrest of key individuals involved in these criminal activities highlight the ongoing efforts to combat cyber threats and enhance global cybersecurity.

For more details on ongoing actions and how to reach out if you have information on these activities, visit the Operation Endgame website.

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