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‘Operation Shrouded Horizon’ Takes Down Darkode Cybercrime Forum

Of the roughly 800 criminal Internet forums worldwide, Darkode represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world. (Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)
Of the roughly 800 criminal Internet forums worldwide, Darkode represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world. (Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)

International law enforcement officers have searched, arrested, and charged over 70 people for activities connected to the Darkode cybercrime forum. The forum has been shut down in what the authorities call “Operation Shrouded Horizon.”

In an official statement, the Department of Justice called it “the largest coordinated international law enforcement effort ever directed at an online cyber-criminal forum.”

The forum was a one-stop, high-volume shopping venue for some of the world’s most prolific cyber criminals.

Called Darkode, this underground, password-protected, online forum was a meeting place for those interested in buying, selling, and trading malware, botnets, stolen personal identifiable information, credit card information, hacked server credentials, and other pieces of data and software that facilitated complex cybercrimes all over the globe, the FBI said in a statement.

U.S. says computer hacking forum Darkode dismantled, 12 charged:

“Hackers and those who profit from stolen information use underground Internet forums to evade law enforcement and target innocent people around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “This operation is a great example of what international law enforcement can accomplish when we work closely together to neutralize a global cybercrime marketplace.”

The FBI said the take down of the forum and the charges announced today are the result of the FBI’s infiltration, as part of Operation Shrouded Horizon, of Darkode’s membership. The investigation of the Darkode forum is ongoing, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Pennsylvania is taking a leadership role in conjunction with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).

Darkode cybercrime marketplace shut down:

“Of the roughly 800 criminal Internet forums worldwide, Darkode represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world, and was the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for criminal computer hackers in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton.  “Through this operation, we have dismantled a cyber-hornets’ nest of criminal hackers which was believed by many, including the hackers themselves, to be impenetrable.”

The charges announced today are part of a coordinated effort by a coalition of law enforcement authorities from 20 nations to charge, arrest, or search 70 Darkode members and associates around the world. The nations comprising the coalition include Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Macedonia, Nigeria, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Today’s actions represent the largest coordinated international law enforcement effort ever directed at an online cyber-criminal forum, wrote the FBI.

Feds say they have shut down Darkode malware marketplace:

“This is a milestone in our efforts to shut down criminals’ ability to buy, sell, and trade malware, botnets, and personally identifiable information used to steal from U.S. citizens and individuals around the world,” said Deputy Director Giuliano.  “Cyber criminals should not have a safe haven to shop for the tools of their trade and Operation Shrouded Horizon shows we will do all we can to disrupt their unlawful activities.”

During the investigation, the Bureau focused primarily on the Darkode members responsible for developing, distributing, facilitating, and supporting the most egregious and complex cyber-criminal schemes targeting victims and financial systems around the world, including in the United States. Operation Shrouded Horizon is a prime example of why the most effective way to combat cybercrime, which operates globally, is a law enforcement response that also transcends national borders, the FBI said.

 

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