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Police have taken down a global virtual private network used by criminals to do business online, which left more than 100 firms at risk of cyberattacks, the EU’s policing agency said on Tuesday.
Officers in Europe and North America seized or disrupted at least 15 servers hosting users and VPNLab.net, a service provider that offered criminal groups shielded communications and internet access, on Monday, Europol said.
“The VPN provider service… was being used in support of serious criminal acts such as ransomware deployment and other cybercrime activities,” Europol said.
Available for a subscription fee of as little as $60 (52 euros), VPNLab.net was “a popular choice for cybercriminals, who could use its services to carry on committing their crimes without fear of detection by authorities”, Europol said.
Law enforcement agents honed in on the VPN service provider, established in 2008, after multiple investigations showed that criminals were using it for activities such as disseminating malware, malicious software designed to infiltrate or disrupt computer systems.
“Other cases showed the service’s use in the setting up of infrastructure and communications behind ransomware campaigns, as well as the actual deployment of ransomware,” Europol said.
As a result of the investigation, more than 100 businesses had been identified as at risk of cyberattacks.
Law enforcement is working with potential victims to mitigate their exposure, Europol said.
Led by German police in Hanover, investigators from several EU countries took part in the operation, as well as counterparts from Britain, Canada, Ukraine and the United States.