VPN Service Used by Criminals Worldwide Dismantled
A virtual private network (VPN) service that “provided a safe haven for cybercriminals to attack their victims” has been shut down following a global operation spanning nine countries, Europol said in a statement Wednesday.
DoubleVPN and heavily advertised on underground cybercrime forums, allowed ransomware operators and phishing fraudsters to evade detection through a high level of anonymity offered through multiple VPN connections for as little as US$25.The VPN service, known as
A virtual private network conceals the identity and location of its user by rerouting their internet traffic to a private server rather than a centralised one, meaning that their data is transmitted to the web from the virtual network rather than their own local computer.
DoubleVPN, which was used to compromise networks around the world and offered multiple servers and therefore supposedly multiple layers of encryption, had its domain seized after an operation led by the Dutch National Police (Politie) in collaboration with European, US and Canadian authorities and coordinated by Europol and Eurojust.
“This criminal investigation concerns perpetrators who think they can remain anonymous, while facilitating large-scale cybercrime operations,” the leading Dutch Public Prosecutor, Wieteke Koorn, said of the investigation.
“We want to make it very clear there cannot be any safe havens for these kinds of criminals. Their criminal acts damage the digitalised society and erode the trust of citizens and companies in digital technologies, therefore their behaviour has to be stopped,” she added.
The coordination was carried out under the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), which, since 2010, aims to “identify, prioritize and address threats posed by organised and serious international crime,” primarily through cooperation among EU member states and institutions.
Edvardas Šileris, the head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, said of Wednesday’s operation, “Law enforcement is most effective when working together and today’s announcement sends a strong message to the criminals using such services: the golden age of criminal VPNs is over. Together with our international partners, we are committed to getting this message across loud and clear.”