Europol and 10 national law enforcement agencies disrupt VPN.net service

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Image source: Europol

Coordinated disruptive actions on January 17 in Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Latvia, Ukraine, the US and the UK, seized or disrupted the 15 servers that hosted VPNLab.net, used by many cybercriminals to distribute malware and ransomware; rendering it unavailable.

Led by the Central Criminal Office of the Hannover Police Department in Germany, the action took place under the EMPACT security framework objective Cybercrime – Attacks Against Information Systems.

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Attempts to reach VPNLab.net result in this message

Source: Screenshot taken Jan 18, 2022

According to a Europol news release, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) provided support for the action day through its Analysis Project ‘CYBORG’, which organised more than 60 coordination meetings and 3 in-person workshops, as well as providing analytical and forensic support. The information exchange was facilitated in the framework of the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. Eurojust organised a coordination meeting to prepare for the operational actions and provided support to enable cross-border judicial cooperation between all Member States concerned.

The following authorities took part in this operation:

  • Germany: Hanover Police Department (Polizeidirektion Hannover) – Central Criminal Office and Verden Public Prosecutor’s Office
  • Netherlands: The Dutch National Hi-Tech Crime Unit
  • Canada: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Federal Policing
  • Czech Republic: Cyber Crime Section – NOCA (National Organized Crime Agency)
  • France: Sous-Direction de la Lutte Contre la Cybercriminalité à la Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire (SDLC-DCPJ)
  • Hungary: RSSPS National Bureau of Investigation Cybercrime Department
  • Latvia: State Police of Latvia (Valsts Policija) – Central Criminal Police Department
  • Ukraine: National Police of Ukraine (Національна поліція України) – Cyberpolice Department
  • United Kingdom: The National Crime Agency
  • United States: Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Eurojust
  • Europol: European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)

Read the entire Europol news release

Why it matters

“The actions carried out under this investigation make clear that criminals are running out of ways to hide their tracks online,” said Edvardas Šileris, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. “Each investigation we undertake informs the next, and the information gained on potential victims means we may have pre-empted several serious cyberattacks and data breaches.”

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