The server used to direct recent cyberattacks against the land registry and the University of Cyprus (UCy) has been taken over, Director for the police Cybercrime Combat unit, Andreas Anastasiades said on Tuesday.

Speaking on CyBC radio’s morning programme, Anastasiades said the server in question had been identified as located in a ‘third country’ and had been seized and disabled in collaboration with Europol.

Police also obtained a list of other businesses and organisations on the island targeted by the hackers and have issued warnings to them, Anastasiades said.

The director added, without naming which ones, that some of those targeted were critical services and said all have been advised to upgrade their cybersecurity systems as soon as possible.

No further attacks could be carried out from the particular seized server, Anastasiades told CyBC, however, hackers are known to re-group and resume illegal activities from elsewhere.

It is possible, albeit difficult and time consuming, to track down the individuals behind such crimes, and in the past there have been successfully solved cases, the police director said.

A waiting game is meanwhile being played out in the cyberattack against the Open University of Cyprus (OUC). It is recalled that the hackers behind that attack –identified by police as a different entity to the ones responsible for the attack on UCy and the land registry–had threatened to make public personal data should their demand for ransom be unmet.

Anastasiades stated in no uncertain terms that there was no possibility of negotiating with the cyber-criminals on this matter. The police cybercrime unit does not have visibility of the extent or nature of the data expected to be leaked within the next two days, the director said.

Negotiating with the criminals is counterproductive, Anastasiades re-iterated, because it sets a precedent and does not in fact guarantee an end to their blackmail.