In a raid identified as “Operation Nova”, authorities in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, France and the United States took control of web domains and the full infrastructure of three virtual private network (VPN) services allegedly used by cybercriminal groups. After being confiscated, the websites (insorg.org, safe-inet.com and safe-inet.net) only show a banner from the relevant authorities.
These services, active for more than 10 years, are believed to have been controlled by the same individual or group, and enjoyed a good reputation in various Russian-speaking and English-speaking dark web forums. Interested users could access these services for less than two dollars a day on average.
A statement from Europol and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) mentions that these three services were used to hide the real identities and locations of phishing, skimming and hacking groups linked to information theft campaigns. The report mentions that these were bulletproof hosting services, a term used in cybersecurity to define organizations that host illegal online content.
The DOJ mentions that: “Bulletproof hosting services often ignore any abusive use complaints or openly help their customers evade detection of their real IP addresses, as well as not store any kind of registration so that authorities cannot access their users’ compromising data.”
On the other hand, Europol mentioned that servers were seized across five countries where these VPN providers hosted their content. The information obtained is in the process of being analyzed in order to continue taking the necessary measures against organized cybercrime.
Operation Nova was coordinated by Europol members and led by German police officers in Reutlingen: “The investigation carried out by our specialists has been a great success thanks to excellent international cooperation with our partners around the world; this is a heavy blow to cybercrime,” said Udo Vogel, police president of Reutlingen Police Headquarters.
He is a well-known expert in mobile security and malware analysis. He studied Computer Science at NYU and started working as a cyber security analyst in 2003. He is actively working as an anti-malware expert. He also worked for security companies like Kaspersky Lab. His everyday job includes researching about new malware and cyber security incidents. Also he has deep level of knowledge in mobile security and mobile vulnerabilities.