Law enforcement agencies have just seized a very popular VPN known as Safe-Inet. The service has been around for over 11 years and has been providing its users with strong anonymity. According to government agencies, the Safe-Inet service became the go to option for cybercriminals.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network, also known as VPN, is a popular technology used by many for some degree of anonymity. The technology works by extending a private network across the internet. It allows people from outside networks to connect to a private network. This technology is very popular in the corporate space for connecting employees to company networks. An alternative use for the technology is anonymity. Connecting to a VPN can allow you to browse the net more anonymously. It does that by hiding the users network data as all the connections to the servers are coming from the VPN.
Safe-Inet is by no means a new service. The VPN has been operating for over 11 years and has gained a lot of users since then. What made safe-inet special is their claim that they used bulletproof servers. This means that their servers were controlled by them and way more secure. The company also made sure to make it known that not a single log has been kept since the launch of the service. This made safe-inet even more attractive to criminals.
What made Safe-Inet illegal?
Governments never liked bulletproof servers. Such servers are usually associated with criminals as normal people have no reason to seek such security. The first attack on bulletproof hosting came last year with the seizure of cyberbunker, a popular hosting provider. Despite attracting many criminals due to its anonymous nature, safe-snet also targeted such groups. Many posts made by safe-inet have been found on different black-hat hacking forums on the dark-net. The company even advertised its service on Russian hacking forums.
The VPN service started becoming a big problem as countless cyber-criminals started to use it. Europol alone, has identifies over 250 criminals using the VPN to spy on companies. The service was also very commonly used for transactional crime. Many online scams and attacks have been linked to servers owned by safe-inet.
Law Enforcement Intervention
Being so popular within criminals, law enforcement had to step in. The service was found illegal because it has been posting advertisements on black-hat hacking forums. Law enforcement agencies around the world started to draft operation Nova. Lead by German authorities, different agencies from around the world took part in the operation. On the 21st of December the safe-inet servers and domains have been seized. A large investigation is currently under way and all the servers will be analyzed. Operation Nova is part of a bigger 'transnational cybercrime' takedown.
Safe-Inet was a very popular VPN within cyber-criminals. VPNs on their own are not anything illegal. Safe-Inet was purely targeted because of its involvement in the cyber-criminal space. The service was openly targeting cyber-criminals and as a result ended up getting seized. Police investigations are expected to take months. Many arrests are expected to follow the investigations as agencies uncover the identities of various criminals.