Interpol shuts down ‘phishing-as-a-service‘ platform 16shop

9 Aug 2023

Image: © tang90246/

Interpol said the criminal platform sold hacking tools that compromised more than 70,000 users in 43 countries.

An Interpol-led operation has shut down a notorious ‘phishing-as-a-service’ platform, striking a blow to global cybercrime.

Interpol said Indonesian authorities arrested the operator of the platform – called 16shop – along with one of its facilitators. Another suspect was arrested in Japan.

Phishing is a common form of cyberattack where the attacker impersonates legitimate entities through email, phone or text messages, with the goal of getting sensitive information. Reports estimate that roughly 90pc of all cyberattacks are linked to successful phishing attacks.

Interpol said 16shop sold ‘phishing kits’ to hackers that aimed to scam internet users. These scams typically involved emails that contained pdf files or links which redirected users to a website. This site would then request the credit card details or other sensitive data from its victims.

Interpol said the hacking tools supplied by 16shop compromised more than 70,000 users in 43 countries. The director of the Indonesian National Police Cybercrime Investigation, brigadier general Adi Vivid Agustiadi Bachtiar, said this type of criminal service meant that anybody could launch phishing attacks “with a few clicks”.

Bernardo Pillot, Interpol’s assistant director of cybercrime operations, said there has been an “unprecedented increase” in cyberthreats and their sophistication. He added that attacks are becoming “more tailored” as criminals are aiming for “maximum impact and maximum profit”.

“Cyberattacks such as phishing may be borderless and virtual in nature, but their impact on victims is real and devastating,” Pillot said.

The Interpol operation involved police organisations in Indonesia, Japan and US, along with multiple private sector partners such as the Cyber Defense Institute, Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, Trend Micro and Cybertoolbelt.

“This operation is only successful as we work closely with various stakeholders from the law enforcement community as well as the private sector to uproot the problem to stop the crimeware being offered as a service and also stopping more people from falling victim to phishing attacks,” Bachtiar said.

Earlier this month, BlackBerry’s Dmitry Bestuzhev spoke to about the geopolitical issues that impact Irish cybersecurity and “initial access brokers”, which sell stolen data from organisations to aid other cyberattacks.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic