DOJ seizes proxy service as US and partners hit Russian hackers


The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had taken down a Russian network of hacked internet-connected devices in a coordinated effort with its foreign counterparts to crack down on malicious cyber activity.

The DOJ said Thursday it was working with law enforcement in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to take down the Russian botnet, known as RSOCKS. The network is said to have hacked into millions of computers and other electronic devices around the world.

RSOCKs, a popular proxy service, illegally provided its users with access to IP addresses tied to devices that had been hacked, authorities said. A message posted on the service’s website and viewed on Friday confirmed that its domain had been seized by the DOJ.

The Russian network initially hacked clocks, routers and audio and video streaming equipment as well as smart garage door openers, which are internet-connected devices, allowing hackers to access IP addresses, according to the DOJ .

Authorities said the hackers then expanded their operations by hacking into Android devices and computers.

“This operation disrupted a highly sophisticated Russian-based cybercrime organization that has conducted cyber intrusions in the United States and abroad,” FBI Special Agent Stacey Moy said in a statement.

FBI investigators handling the case said several large public and private groups were victims of the network, including a university, a hotel, a television studio and an electronics manufacturer.

Disrupting the group is the latest crackdown on suspected cybercriminals. In April, the DOJ and other foreign agencies took control of a popular hacking forum known as RaidForums.

The website was a major online marketplace where cybercriminals bought and sold stolen data containing personal and financial information.

In the same month, US and German law enforcement sanctioned and took control of Hydra Market, Russia’s largest darknet market, for engaging in cyber crimes and other illegal activities.

Hydra was involved in ransomware, hacks, identity theft, counterfeiting currency and illicit drugs, authorities said.

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