Israeli suspects include an Israeli Arab who is believed to have used his hacking prowess to assist a terror group hostile to Israel.
Three Israelis – including an Arab Israeli accused of aiding a terror group – were arrested this week as part of a global sting led by the FBI against a hacking forum believed responsible for an unknown number of cybercrimes over the past several years, it was cleared for publication on Wednesday.
The site www.Darkode.com” was taken down on Tuesday by a joint law enforcement effort led by the FBI in collaboration with Europol and law enforcement agencies in 18 countries, including the Israel Police cybercrimes unit. Over 70 suspects have been arrests since the raids began, including alleged hackers from the United Kingdom, India, South America, the United States, Eastern Europe, the Former Yugoslavia, Israel, and elsewhere.
The homepage of Darkode.com currently shows a message from the FBI saying that the domain has been seized by the law enforcement agency and several others acting through Europol. Around the message are the seals of police departments from more than a dozen countries.
The Israeli suspects include an Israeli Arab who is believed to have used his hacking prowess to assist a terror group hostile to Israel, either by passing on money or stolen data; though an official from the Israel Police cybercrimes unit said he could not disclose which group. The other two suspects are brothers from central Israel.
The identities of all three suspects are not cleared for publication for the time being. All three were brought for a remand extension at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and were ordered kept in custody until Sunday.
Since the site went online in 2007 its been used as a black market for hundreds of hackers to meet and collaborate, and buy and sell stolen data, including, but not limited to, credit card information, email addresses and passwords, and personal details to aid in identity theft.
An officer from the Israel Police cybercrimes unit on Wednesday called the forum “a factory for the production of cyber weapons.”
It was also a popular meeting place for hackers looking to contract other cyber criminals to carry out attacks for them. For instance, hackers looking to carry out a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) could take to the forum and contract such attacks from other attackers, in exchange for payments made in bitcoins, the online currency. Payments were also made by way of money transfer to bank accounts, which Israel Police said indicates the level of freedom the forum members said they had operating on the website.
The site was invitation only, and members could only gain access after two separate members recommended them and later showing examples of cyberattacks they had carried out in the past, a sort of “hacking portfolio” as one official from the Israel Police cybercrimes unit said Wednesday.
The FBI on Tuesday sent agents from their Israel liaison office to the Lod headquarters of the LAHAV 433 unit, popularly referred to as “the Israeli FBI”, to watch the arrests take place in real time. In a situation room, the FBI agents and officers from the cybercrimes unit watched a screen that showed the countries worldwide where the raids were being carried out, as well as the names of the suspects being arrested and removed from the screen in real time, police said Wednesday.