Tag Archives: Europol

World’s biggest marketplace selling internet paralysing DDoS attacks taken down

The administrators of the DDoS marketplace webstresser.org were arrested on 24 April 2018 as a result of Operation Power Off, a complex investigation led by the Dutch Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency with the support of Europol and a dozen law enforcement agencies from around the world. The administrators were located in the United Kingdom, Croatia, Canada and Serbia. Further measures were taken against the top users of this marketplace in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The illegal service was shut down and its infrastructure seized in the Netherlands, the US and Germany.

Webstresser.org was considered the world’s biggest marketplace to hire Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) services, with over 136,000 registered users and 4 million attacks measured by April 2018. The orchestrated attacks targeted critical online services offered by banks, government institutions and police forces, as well as victims in the gaming industry.

Devastation for hire

In a DDoS attack enabled by such a service, the attacker remotely controls connected devices to direct a large amount of traffic at a website or an online platform. Whether this traffic eats up the website’s bandwidth, overwhelms the server, or consumes other essential resources, the end result of an unmitigated DDoS attack is the same: the victim website is either slowed down past the point of usability, or it’s knocked completely offline, depriving users from essential online services.

It used to be that in order to launch a DDoS attack, one had to be pretty well versed in internet technology. That is no longer the case. With webstresser.org, any registered user could pay a nominal fee using online payment systems or cryptocurrencies to rent out the use of stressers and booters. Fees on offer were as low as EUR 15.00 a month, thus allowing individuals with little to no technical knowledge to launch crippling DDoS attacks.

International law enforcement cyber sweep

International police cooperation was central to the success of this investigation initiated by the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit and the UK National Crime Agency, as the administrators, users, critical infrastructure and victims were scattered across the world.

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) supported the investigation from the onset by facilitating the exchange of information between all partners. A command and coordination post was set up at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague on the action day.

“We have a trend where the sophistication of certain professional hackers to provide resources is allowing individuals – and not just experienced ones – to conduct DDoS attacks and other kind of malicious activities online”, said Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). “It’s a growing problem, and one we take very seriously. Criminals are very good at collaborating, victimising millions of users in a moment form anywhere in the world. We need to collaborate as good as them with our international partners to turn the table on these criminals and shut down their malicious cyberattacks.”

“Stresser websites make powerful weapons in the hands of cybercriminals” said Jaap van Oss, Dutch Chairman of the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT). “International law enforcement will not tolerate these illegal services and will continue to pursue its admins and users. This joint operation is yet another successful example of the ongoing international effort against these destructive cyberattacks.”

DDoS-ing is a crime

DDoS attacks are illegal. Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry. The penalties can be severe: if you conduct a DDoS attack, or make, supply or obtain stresser or booter services, you could receive a prison sentence, a fine or both.

The individuals that become involved in cybercrime often have a skill set that could be put to a positive use. Skills in coding, gaming, computer programming, cyber security or anything IT-related are in high demand and there are many careers and opportunities available to anyone with an interest in these areas.

This Europol news release was sourced from:
https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/world’s-biggest-marketplace-selling-internet-paralysing-ddos-attacks-taken-down

Interpol-led Operation Sees Over 20,000 Domain Names Seized For Selling Counterfeit Goods

An operation led by Interpol in conjunction with Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre and law enforcement authorities from 27 EU Member States and third parties, seized over 20,520 domain names in an operation that was revealed to coincide with Cyber Monday this week. The domain names were used for websites that were offering counterfeit goods, for example luxury products, sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and online piracy on e-commerce platforms and social networks.

This joint global recurrent operation ‘In Our Sites’ (IOS) was implemented in 2014 and has since increased significantly. The eighth edition in 2017 of this global operation saw a big range of anti-counterfeiting associations and brand owner representatives joined law enforcement authorities participating in this huge worldwide action, to facilitate international cooperation and support the countries involved in this initiative. A total of 7,776 websites have been seized in the previous editions.

This year’s operation IOS VIII has seen a remarkable increase of up to 20,520 seized domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to consumers. This can be explained by the holistic approach which Europol followed with the aim of making the internet a safer place for consumers, by getting even more countries and private-sector partners to participate in this operation and provide referrals.

“This excellent result shows how important and effective cooperation between law enforcement authorities and private-sector partners is, and how vital it is if we are to ultimately make the internet a safer place for consumers,” said Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol. “Through its Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), Europol will continue to work closely with its partners to strengthen the fight against intellectual property crime online and offline.”

“Targeting copyright-infringing websites that market dangerous counterfeit goods to consumers and engage in other forms of intellectual property theft will continue to be a priority for law enforcement,” said acting IPR Center Director Nick Annan. “Strengthening our collaboration with police authorities around the world and leaders of industry will reinforce the crackdown on IP crimes, and demonstrate that there is no safe haven for criminals committing these illicit activities.”

Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) continued to join efforts in 2017 by successfully supporting many high-priority investigations related to online crimes, providing training related to online investigations, and organising a conference on Innovative Strategies for Effective Enforcement in Antwerp, Belgium, on 19-20 September 2017.

One of the participants in the IOS, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested two Mexican nationals earlier this year for allegedly operating a counterfeit airbag business out of their residence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez were charged with conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods and two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods. The two Mexican nationals facilitated the listing and selling of counterfeit airbag modules and airbag covers through their online website airbagsplace.com, and conducted in person sales of the counterfeit goods.

As part of HSI’s enforcement actions the website domain name was seized and the merchant account used to facilitate the illegal activity was shut down. If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million.

The easy access to the internet has made fighting counterfeiting and piracy a worldwide challenge. Counterfeiters’ ability to remain anonymous and operate thousands of web domains brings significant challenges for both the private sector and law enforcement efforts directed at taking down rogue websites and tracking down the individuals behind them. Furthermore, it has become increasingly easy to become a victim of counterfeiting. Mindful of this, Europol’s IPC³ has produced a new awareness video for consumers about the risks of ordering counterfeit medicines online. This phenomenon knows no limits – in the best-case scenario, fake medicines leave patients with no ill effects but also with no cure and in many other cases, they could even be life threatening.

Europol also wants to help consumers identify illicit websites selling counterfeit goods. For more information about the risks of buying counterfeits and other means used by counterfeiters, such as fake social media accounts and fake apps, visit Europol's dedicated web page.

EURid And Europol Doing Their Bit To Clean Up Internet

EURid and Europol have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to engage in joint efforts related to fighting cybercrime, to exchange statistical data and trends pertaining to cybercrime, and to commit to cooperate on projects designed to combat cybercrime.The MoU between EURid, the .eu and .ею registry operator, and Europol, the European Police Office, will see the two organisations collaborate through the exchange of knowledge and support pertaining to cybercrime. Specifically, it entails (1) the engagement in joint efforts related to fighting cybercrime, (2) the exchange of statistical data and trends pertaining to cybercrime, and (3) the commitment to cooperate on projects designed to combat cybercrime.Overall, cybercrime rates worldwide have been climbing over the past few years. It’s up to us to increase our efforts in combatting illegal activity online and hopefully influence others to do the same” states Geo Van Langenhove, EURid’s Legal Manager. According to Europol, some EU Member States are now reporting that the recording of cybercrime offences may have surpassed those associated with traditional crimes in 2016.EURid and Europol joining forces marks a large step in the right direction to combating cybercrime, but their efforts won’t stop there. “It’s imperative that we continue to monitor and identify abusive registrations and alleged illegal activity happening within the .eu and .ею space and take action in a timely manner. Our collaboration with Europol will greatly help us accomplish this, however, we must continue to evolve in order to remain a step ahead of those with malicious intent” comments Giovanni Seppia, EURid’s External Relations Manager.Earlier this month EURid announced that in 2015 alone, they suspended 14,710 domain names and so far in 2016, a total of 5,877 domain names were suspended. As an additional measure, EURid has been actively working with various law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Economy and the Cybersquad team.

North American And European Police Combine To Seize 4,500 Domains Linked To Counterfeit Goods

Over 4,500 domain names hosting websites selling counterfeit products to consumers online have been seized by law enforcement authorities in a joint global operation. Operation In Our Sites VII tackled copyright-infringing websites and third-party marketplace listings selling luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products.There were roughly 15,000 illegal websites seized and 48,000 erroneous ecommerce links removed over the past year as part of the operation.Law enforcement authorities from 27 countries, anti-counterfeiting associations and brand owner representatives participated in this huge action, which was coordinated and facilitated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition, the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and Interpol.”This year’s operation IOS VII has seen a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year. This excellent result shows how effective cooperation between law enforcement authorities and private sector partners is vital to ultimately make the internet a safer place for consumers. Through its Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), Europol will continue to work closely with its partners to strengthen the fight against intellectual property crime online and offline,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.”The tremendous collaborative efforts between law enforcement and industry prove the internet is not a safe haven for counterfeiters preying on consumers,” said the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center Director Bruce Foucart. “Our investigators are committed to bringing online pirates to justice by seizing websites, working with global police authorities and strengthening relationships with industry partners.”Fighting the trade of counterfeit products online is a challenging and difficult task for law enforcement. To strengthen the fight against counterfeiting and piracy online and offline, Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) joined forces to launch the Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC) in July 2016. With its increased operational capabilities, the IPC has successfully supported many high-priority investigations related to online intellectual property infringements such as Operation Student and Operation Fake.

Europol Takes Down Another Thousand Websites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Europol logoOperation In Our Sites, conducted by Europol, has taken down 999 more domain names for websites selling counterfeit goods, according to the European police agency.

This is the sixth Operation In Our Sites operation with over 1,500 domains previously seized, often in cooperation with European and United States law enforcement bodies.

The operation tackled the sale of counterfeit goods (including intellectual property (IP) trademark infringements) and online piracy (IP copyright infringements) on e-commerce platforms and social networks.

Law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, France, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the United Kingdom participated in this huge action, which was organised and led by Europol and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

For the first time in operation IOS’s four-year history, Interpol brought its support through eight of its member countries (Argentina, Chile, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Panama, Peru, South Korea and Thailand).

Europol’s role involved organising, coordinating, exchanging and subsequently analysing data among participating countries, and liaising with rights holders from the private sector.

Cooperation with private industry remains crucial and is key to monitoring and reporting IP-infringing websites to the concerned countries via Europol, to ultimately make the Internet a safer place for consumers. The participating rights holders represented different sectors including traditional luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals and toiletries.

Operation IOS VI followed a new format, in line with the EU Action Plan on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, which resulted in the triggering of seven additional operations. Moreover, several new cases are expected to be initiated due to the huge demand from the rights holders in private industry.

US Government Announces Seizure Of 30,000 Domains In Global Action

Europol announced last week they had seized just 292 domain names in a global operation with 24 other law enforcement bodies across 18 countries including the U.S. government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The domains were involved in the sale of counterfeit goods online.But a day later the ICE announced 100 times that many domains had been seized in the operation. The ICE announced 29,684 domain names were seized as part of Project Transatlantic/ Operation In-Our-Sites V.The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (National IPR Center) continues to work vigilantly to protect the U.S. public from counterfeit products that pose health and safety concerns or have an adverse effect on the U.S. economy. With its industry partners, the National IPR Center initiated a coordinated effort to disrupt the operation of these infringing websites. During this past year and leading up to Cyber Monday, the National IPR Center and its partners used both criminal and civil actions to successfully shutdown websites selling counterfeit goods, significantly bolstering the overall impact of this year’s efforts. The operation demonstrates the great collaboration between industry members and personnel from the National IPR Center, who effectively worked together to combat this ever growing problem. The National IPR Center extends its appreciation to rights holders representing name brand apparel, handbags, shoes, eyewear, cosmetics, consumer electronics, athletic apparel, sporting goods, personal care products, as well as the entertainment industry. All contributed to this operation’s success.This is the fifth year the HSI-led National IPR Center worked with its international partners to target websites selling counterfeit products online culminating on Cyber Monday. Due to the global nature of Internet crime, the National IPR Center partnered with Europol who, through its member countries, seized top-level domains as part of Project Transatlantic/Operation In-Our-Sites V.”Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said National IPR Center Acting Director Bruce Foucart. “Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”Each year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners and online. In this ever changing world, the Internet has facilitated the sale of counterfeit merchandise online and counterfeiters have taken advantage of the Internet to deceive, sell and ship counterfeit products directly to unsuspecting consumers. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories, according to the National IPR Center.”The infringement of intellectual property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers. Europol is committed to working with its international partners to crack down on the criminal networks responsible for this illegal activity,” says Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.The HSI-led National IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the National IPR Center uses the expertise of its 23-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the National IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety and the U.S. economy.

Europol Leads Operation To Seize Hundreds Of Domains Linked To Counterfeit Goods In Lead-Up To Christmas

In its third operation in 12 months, Europol working with European and US law enforcement agencies has seized hundreds of domain names linked to the sale of counterfeit goods online.The latest operation saw Europol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), together with 25 law enforcement agencies from 19 countries, seize 292 domain names. The latest announcement brings the total to 1,170 domain names seized in the three operations.The 292 domain names seized are part of project ‘In Our Sites (IOS) Transatlantic V’. The operation was coordinated by Europol for its partners (Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, DC, for the United States.Since August, Europol and the IPR Center (NIPRCC) have received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites, which were then circulated to law enforcement authorities in the participating countries.The domain names seized are now in the custody of the governments involved in these operations. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will find either a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the crime of wilful copyright infringement, or the visitors will not be able to access the website anymore. The most popular counterfeit products concerned include the traditional luxury goods but also sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated goods like movies and music.”The infringements of intellectual property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers. Europol is committed to working with its international partners to crack down on the criminal networks responsible for this illegal activity,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.While seizing the websites is only one way of disrupting and hindering the criminals behind the sale of counterfeits on the Internet, law enforcement authorities also now focus increasingly on the ‘follow-the-money’ approach, in line with the EU Action Plan on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.Project IOS is a sustained law enforcement initiative that began to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. The 292 domain names seized under Operation IOS V brings the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1829 since the IOS project began in November 2012.”Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said NIPRCC Acting Director Bruce Foucart. “Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”Counterfeit products being sold online not only rip off the consumer and provide shoddy products, but also put their personal financial information at risk. Consumers are encouraged to report counterfeit products and websites selling them, but also encouraged to raise awareness with others because counterfeiting crimes result in many victims. In addition, the crimes can cause revenue and tax losses, unemployment, environmental, health and safety issues for humans and animals, human exploitation and child labour.

European And US Law Enforcement Agencies Seize 132 Domains Selling Counterfeit Merchandise

European and US law enforcement agencies have taken action against domain names involved in the selling of counterfeit goods, seizing 133 domains, arresting one person in the US and seizing $175,000.The 133 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday, an iteration of Operation In Our Sites, which is coordinated by the US law enforcement bodies.The latest operation targeted websites that duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season. The operation was coordinated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C. for the US and the European Police Office (Europol) in Europe.In addition to seizing domain names with a top-level domain (TLD) controlled by US registries, the IPR Center partnered with Europol to execute coordinated seizures of mostly European-based TLDs such as .be, .eu, .dk, .fr, .ro, and .uk. This effort is titled Project Transatlantic.During this operation, federal US law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, cologne, and a variety of clothing, jewellery and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges.”This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the IPR Center,” says ICE Director John Morton. “That partnership enables us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win.”The IPR Center and Europol received leads from various trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to ten investigating HSI field offices in Baltimore, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Newark, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Paul, Buffalo, and Ventura (Ca) and to the investigating Europol member countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.”Europol became member of the Intellectual Property Right Coordination Center (IPR Center) this year and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes. IPR theft is not a harmless or victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy,” says Mr Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.The domain names are now in the custody of the respective governments of the participating countries. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.In addition to the domain name seizures, Cyber Monday 3 identified PayPal accounts utilised by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts are currently being targeted for seizure by the investigating HSI field offices.”We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work closely with HSI to shut down criminals targeting our customers and our brand just as the holiday season takes off,” said Tod Cohen, Government Relations for eBay Inc. “PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and we hope that this is fair warning to criminals that the internet is not a safe place to try and sell fake goods.”Operation In Our Sites (IOS) is a sustained law enforcement initiative by the ICE that began more than two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the internet. The 101 domain names by ICE seized under Project Cyber Monday 3 bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,630 since the operation began in June 2010. Since that time, the seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views.Of the 1,529 previous domain names seized, 684 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after a “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government. Additionally, a public service announcement, launched in April 2011, is linked from the seizure banner on each of the 684 forfeited websites.The banner and video educate the public about the criminal consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and the economic impact that crime has on the U.S. and global economies.U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Western District of New York and the Western District of Texas issued the warrants for the seizures. Significant assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.