In a cross-border campaign, the authorities have shut down several providers of VPN services. In the course of this, various domains and complete server infrastructures were confiscated.
Police units from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the USA worked together to investigate and implement the closure. It is assumed that the same people were behind the services. The identities have not yet been clarified, but the services were advertised on relevant platforms in the Darknet, primarily in English and Russian, as reported by ZDNet.
The services in question were not normal VPN providers, as there are hundreds of them and which are occasionally used for less legal purposes. Rather, it was about services that were operated solely for the purpose of providing the disguise of criminal activities as a business model.
Threads came together in Reutlingen Germany
The operators had developed a certain range of services. Depending on how much a user needed, prices could fluctuate between daily access of just over a dollar and an annual subscription of 190 dollars. The fact that the operators had absolutely no interest in restricting illegal activities on their platforms was shown, among other things, by the fact that various requests from authorities to block certain customers were simply ignored.
The operators are said to have been active with their offers for around ten years. The investigations now culminated in “Operation Nova“, which was coordinated by Europol. The operational management was carried out by the Baden-Württemberg police in Reutlingen. It is now hoped that the servers will also provide information about the users of the services, including some current operators of ransomware campaigns.