FBI and international partners seize control of popular hacking forum

By Sean Lyngaas, CNN

US and international law enforcement agencies have seized control of a popular website where hackers have advertised data stolen from American consumers and corporations — the latest in a long-running effort to crack down on forums where cybercriminals congregate.

“This domain has been seized” by the FBI, US Secret Service and Justice Department, read a notice Tuesday on the home page of RaidForums, a website known more for advertising hacked data in English rather than in Russian, the preferred language of other criminal forums. Law enforcement agencies from the United Kingdom, Sweden and elsewhere were involved in the seizure, according to the statement.

With over 530,000 registered members, according to threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, RaidForums had great reach and influence among low to mid-level cybercriminals.

RaidForums’ 21-year-old alleged founder, Diogo Santos Coelho, was arrested in the United Kingdom on January 31, and remains in custody pending “the resolution of his extradition proceedings,” the Justice Department said.

It’s the latest move in a sustained international law enforcement effort to upend the marketplaces where cybercrime flourishes. German police last week seized the computer servers of Hydra, a popular Russian dark web market connected to $5 billion in transactions since 2015.

“The takedown of this online market for the resale of hacked or stolen data disrupts one of the major ways cybercriminals profit from the large-scale theft of sensitive personal and financial information,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in a written statement.

US authorities had access to RaidForums’ computer infrastructure for several months before the seizure was announced, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the matter. That likely gave authorities valuable insight into who bought and sold hacked data during that time.

The seizure of RaidForums is a blow to crooks looking for an easy way to profit from data breaches. But the underground market for stolen financial and personal data will likely continue to flourish,…