Darkode Hacking Forum Taken Offline in Global Operation

Law enforcement and judicial authorities worldwide have taken down the most prolific English-speaking cybercriminal forum to date: Darkode.

Agencies targeted cybercriminals that were using the Darkode forum to trade and barter their hacking expertise, malware and botnets, and to find partners for their next spam runs or malware attacks. In total, the takedown resulted in 28 arrests, 37 house searches and numerous seizures of computers and other equipment.         

“The curtain fell on the cybercriminal forum when the site was taken down and a banner was put up online indicating that the FBI, EC3 and international partners had control over the site,” Europol noted. “This signified the end of Darkode, the most popular English-speaking hacking forum, ranking in the top five of the most prolific criminal forums worldwide.”

That’s a ranking otherwise dominated by Russian-speaking criminal platforms.

The more than 250-300 active users of Darkode formed a closed community. Membership was by invitation only, and after being vetted by a trusted member of the forum. The popular cybercriminal hub facilitated the trade in goods and services including malware, zero-day exploits and access to compromised servers, credit card and bank credentials, botnets-for-rent and DDoS-for-hire.

“Although there were several scandals, changes and rumours of the forum being compromised during the course of its existence, the Darkode forum was the place to go to if you were an English-speaking cybercriminal,” Europol added.

The international coordinated action was led by the FBI and supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), with the involvement of law enforcement officers from 20 countries from the European Union and beyond.

“Today’s global action caused significant disruption to the underground economy, and is a stark reminder that private forums are no sanctuary for criminals and are not beyond the reach of law enforcement,” said Europol director Rob Wainwright. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make cyberspace as crime-free as possible for the world’s citizens.”

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