Europol Shutters 290+ Domains Selling Pirated Goods

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Europol and US officials have swooped to close down 292 domains flagged for selling counterfeit goods.

The seizures were part of the long-running ‘In Our Sites (IOS)’ project that has so far seen the closure of 1829 domains since 2012, according to Europol.

Project IOS Transatlantic V was co-ordinated by Europol on behalf of multiple countries in Europe including the UK, Portugal, Croatia and Lithuania, as well as the US Homeland Security Investigations-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington.

Europol and the IPR Center have apparently had some of the domains in their sights since August when intelligence from trademark holders began to filter through. These were then circulated to law enforcers in each affected country.

The domains in question are technically now in the custody of the relevant governments, according to Europol.

Anyone typing the names into their browsers will now be met with a note informing them of the seizure and warning them about copyright infringement, or they will simply have access to the sites blocked.

“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,” said Europol director, Rob Wainwright, in a statement.

The Europe-wide police agency warned that counterfeit products are not only likely to be poor value for money and badly made, but that consumers visiting the sites run the risk of having sensitive financial information stolen and used in ID fraud.

Gunter Ollmann, CTO of information assurance firm NCC Group, argued that the introduction of 1500+ generic top-level domains (gTLDs) next year will “create an even greater surface area” for the bad guys to operate from.

“Many hundreds of these new gTLDs will provide much sought-after candidate domain names – capable of deceiving yet another generation of victims – and make it even more difficult for organizations to police them, let alone take down the counterfeit sites,” he added.

“While there is a lot of focus on the identification and takedown of rogue sites and counterfeit web sales, most organizations have done little to combat the root cause of the problem. Their own customers do not know where to go safely on the internet to purchase their goods.”

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