In a joint law enforcement operation that comprised of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, and other national police forces, three virtual private network services and web hosting provisions used by cybercriminals were taken down.

The mission was named ‘Operation Nova’ and ended with the seizure of domain names and server infrastructure used by insorg.org, safe-inet.net, and inet.com.

The three offered VPN services, proxy services, and “bulletproof hosting.” Bulletproof hosting is a type of web hosting that is lenient in terms of material hosted and is used for illegal activity like illegal porn sites and virtual gambling.

What the services offered the users

The services taken down, are used by cybercriminals, so they can evade detection by law enforcement agencies. For instance, safe-inet was used by some of the world’s leading cybercriminals responsible for ransomware and other online crimes.

Europol confirmed this after the infrastructure was seized. The VPN offered by safe-inet was costly but worth it for criminals, as it has five layers of anonymous VPN connections and was hard to intercept, making it the best way to conduct criminal activity while evading detection.

Along with ransomware operations, the services were also used to provide support for the Magecart skimming gang, known to be responsible for dozens of attacks.

A success of cooperation

Magecart attacks were first experienced in 2018, when the gang attacked British Airways, spread to Newegg, Ticketmaster Entertainment, Oxo International, Sweaty Betty, the Infowars store, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Macy’s, among others.

The investigation was a success, because of international cooperation, according to Udo Vogel, the head of Reutlingen Police.

The results are an indication that law enforcement can achieve a lot when they work together to bring down cybercriminals. The information gathered will lead to more efforts to take down the services used by cybercriminals.