A hacker group blackmails companies and organizations on a large scale, until the investigators strike and smash the network - with crucial support from Baden-Württemberg.
But that is by no means an all-clear.
Stuttgart/Washington - Even after the successful strike against an international network of cybercriminals and extortionists, investigators are warning of countless attacks by hackers on unprotected company software.
"The location is irrelevant for such a group," said the President of the Reutlingen Police Headquarters, Udo Vogel, of the German Press Agency.
"It's all about where can I attack, where can I cause damage, where can I extort money.
Every company and ultimately also every division is right.” Hundreds of reports of possible cyber attacks on companies and authorities are received every year at the central contact point for cybercrime at the State Criminal Police Office (LKA), the number of unreported cases is huge.
"It's very extreme when hospitals are attacked, when human lives are at stake because the infrastructure of a clinic is destroyed or impaired," said Vogel.
US authorities also reported on Thursday about a case in the US where a clinic could no longer accept new patients after an attack and no longer had access to electronic patient data.
At the beginning of last year, the “Medizin Campus Bodensee” clinic network was also the target of a cyber attack.
The IT systems at Klinikum Friedrichshafen and Klinikum Tettnang were mainly affected.
At that time, however, patient care was guaranteed.
According to the Ministry of the Interior at the time, the health care system is an interesting target for cybercriminals, as they see the potential for blackmail there as high due to the sensitive data and IT infrastructure available.
These attacks on computer systems with encryption Trojans (ransomware) have been considered the most serious threat to cyber security for years.
Malicious software that has been smuggled in blocks companies or paralyzes their infrastructure.
As a result, victims can no longer access their data.
The perpetrators demand a ransom for the decryption, which is a particularly lucrative business.
Billing is often done in the digital currency Bitcoin.
"But we have shown that you are not powerless and that you can very well research, search and arrest criminals on the Internet," said Police Commissioner Vogel.
"You can even take infrastructure away from them this way."
Vogel's police headquarters was involved in the investigations into the previously unknown, internationally active hacker group, which is said to have been responsible for more than 1,500 serious cyber attacks against companies and organizations worldwide in the past year and a half.
According to the Stuttgart public prosecutor, more than 70 attacks were directed against facilities in Germany, including three from Baden-Württemberg.
According to investigators' estimates, the damage caused to the companies and public institutions affected should "run into the billions".
According to the authorities, the network is the "Hive Ransomware" group, which not only encrypts important data on the victims, but has also developed blackmail tools to put pressure on the victim by publishing sensitive data.
The network has therefore captured more than 100 million US dollars (around 92 million euros) in ransom payments in recent years.
Cyber specialists in Esslingen managed to penetrate the perpetrators' IT infrastructure last year.
The specialists could then have followed the trail back to the previously unknown network and finally given the decisive clue.
In the course of the investigation, servers were confiscated and network services made inaccessible.