A popular online marketplace that was notorious for selling people’s stolen data has been shut down and had its infrastructure seized by an F.B.I –led operation involving the Dutch National Police and the National Crime Agency. “Genesis” was the biggest criminal marketplace on the dark web where user information could be purchased for as little as $1. Over 200 searches and 120 arrests were made and equipment was seized in an operation dubbed “Operation Cookie Monster” involving law enforcement agencies from 17 countries.
The Dangers Posed By Websites Like Genesis Marketplace
Genesis’ most popular commodity was digital identities and online profiles that had been hacked from users’ computers. The marketplace also listed bots for sale that would give buyers access to a victim’s infected computer. These bots would give criminals access to victims’ data in real-time, including password changes. In addition, buyers would receive a specially built browser that would mimic the victim’s screen to look like legitimate websites and then subsequently gather sensitive information.
Unlike most online underworld marketplaces which are only available on the dark web, Genesis was also accessible on the open web. The website circumvented law enforcement by making its website an invitation-only platform. Doing this greatly lowered the barrier to entry for criminal activity on the internet and made the marketplace a popular destination for scammers and hackers selling their ill-gotten wares.
Not only did Genesis make it easy to buy user passwords for accounts like PayPal, Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon, among others, but the platform also offered users “how-to guides” through a Wiki-style website. The dangers posed by such platforms cannot be understated as the world moves increasingly online. The information available on the marketplace would give criminals access to victims’ digital information including bank account login details. Thus, the takedown of such a big player in cybercrime is expected to slow down cybercriminal activity significantly.
How to Check If You’ve Been Affected By Cybercrime
At its height, the Genesis Marketplace hosted over 80 million user credentials and digital accounts belonging to over 2 million people for sale. The website had been in operation since 2018. This means that anyone who uses the internet may have been affected or had their data compromised in some way. To see if you have been affected you can check for your details on “Check Your Hack”, a certified service that is run by the Dutch National Police. The website will tell you if your information has been compromised and on which platforms.
In addition, you can also review accounts to check for unusual activity such as unauthorised logins from other locations or messages you don’t recognise. If your accounts have been compromised, the NCSC provides guidance you can follow to regain access and recover hacked accounts.
How To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime
To protect information from hackers, there are a number of steps that online users can take to avoid their data ending up on the dark web. A good place to start is by ensuring that you have the latest security updates installed on all computers and devices you use. You can do this by updating as soon as you’re prompted or by turning on automatic updates on your device.
Cyber experts also advise utilising your browser’s password manager to save and store passwords so you don’t have to remember them all. This allows you to create strong passwords while still providing ease of use when logging in and creating an extra layer of security for your information. Other ways to protect your online accounts include using unique, strong passwords for every website, and setting up 2-step verification where possible which protects your account from hackers even if they have your login details.