Operation Cookie Monster

On Tuesday, more than a dozen law enforcement organizations from around the world shut down the Genesis Market, a notorious online black market for hacked credentials and biometric information used by cybercriminals to launch attacks or steal identities.

A considerable number of arrests were made as part of the FBI-led operation known as “Operation Cookie Monster.”  Genesis Market had been connected to “millions of financially motivated cyber incidents worldwide.”

The interception is the most recent in a string of aggressive cybercrime operations by the U.S. authorities that target the support systems for the criminal online underworld. The owner and administrator of BreachForums were detained by the FBI last month, and the site’s surviving administrator made the decision to close it down after learning that the FBI had access to internal site data. The FBI and Department of Justice said in January that they had penetrated the Hive ransomware networks and spent months there before taking control of the target.

This week, a shutdown notice with a picture of an FBI agent working at a computer appeared on the Genesis front page. The message stated, “This website has been seized,” and mentioned that a federal judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin had issued a seizure warrant. There was also a message for site visitors in the notice: “Have you been a Genesis Market user? In touch with the managers of Genesis Market? The note stated, “Contact us, we’re interested,” followed by an email address associated with the FBI.

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