FBI Seizes Hacker Forum

John Lister's picture

The FBI has taken control of a forum used for selling stolen data. The fact it's the second time BreachForums has been taken down this year shows how it may be an endless task.

Such forums are arguably a key incentive for hackers to steal data in the first place. The forums make it easier to find buyers for the stolen data, rather than the hackers having to figure out their own tactics for exploiting the stolen information. BreachForums was also a key marketplace for selling malware used for successful hacking attacks.

High-profile data offered for sale on the site in recent months included personal information on Dell customers and, embarrassingly, data from Europol, an alliance of European police forces. (Source: arstechnica.com)

International Cooperation

Unusually the site was available on the world wide web and accessible by any web browser. Many such sites are instead only available on the "dark web" which requires special browsing software that makes it harder to track who has accessed the site and who runs it.

The FBI has now worked with the Department of Justice and international agencies to seize control of the site. They made a similar move last year, arresting the site's administrator. However, it reopened under a new administrator using three new domain addresses.

Telegram Channel Seized

This seizure looks to be more effective as officials suggest they don't merely control the domain names but have access to the database that powered the site. That means they could have some details of the site's users who have potentially broken laws.

They've also taken control of the site's official channel on Telegram, along with that of an administrator. Telegram is an encrypted messaging tool created by two Russian men who later left the country citing political oppression. To put it mildly, the user base appears to include people with many different reasons for wishing to communicate privately. (Source: techcrunch.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Are such law enforcement operations worthwhile? Will they act as a deterrent or is this just whack-a-mole? Should people be allowed to discuss criminal hacking techniques online?

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lightft_3936's picture

Keeping people who do not respect the rights of others off the streets is valuable. There will ALWAYS be more people who will want to fill the spot of the guy just taken down, but they are down for now. When they come back up, the world may have moved on and their skills and connections are not as valuable as before. They lose while society gains both from having them off the street and from learning how they were taken down. Human nature is such that we will always have good and bad, and so long as we strive to have something a majority of people call "the common good" that we want to benefit from, there will be a need to control those who have lower standards.

jwilson1956_4779's picture

"Whack-a-mole is not always futile."

Great points.