FBI seizes site selling 12bn records from data breaches

17 Jan 2020

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The FBI has seized WeLeakInfo, a website that sold access to breached data, including names and passwords, for as little as $2.

This week, US authorities seized the domain of WeLeakInfo.com, a website that has been selling access to data hacked from other websites for the past three years. The seizure was confirmed by the FBI on Thursday (16 January).

In a statement, the FBI said that the website provided users with a search engine to review and obtain personal information that was illegally obtained from more than 10,000 data breaches.

This amounted to more than 12bn different unique indexed records, including names, email addresses, usernames, phone numbers and cleartext passwords.

Leaked information for $2

The website sold subscriptions to users, allowing them to access the results of these data breaches, with each subscription providing an unlimited number of searches for details. Subscription was offered on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

A 24-hour subscription cost just $2, with a week costing $7 and a month’s access costing $25. While the platform may have been used by organisations to conduct cybersecurity-related research, it may also have been used by hackers targeting specific individuals or just seeking data.

As detailed by ZDNet, hackers would take passwords and attempt to use them against a user’s other online profiles, hoping that the target had re-used passwords on other sites, highlighting the importance of good password management.

The seizure of WeLeakInfo

In its statement, the FBI said that action was taken against the website as part of a comprehensive law enforcement action, which was coordinated with the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the US Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property section and the UK’s National Crime Agency.

There was also coordination with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the German Federal Criminal Police Office and the Netherlands National Police Corps.

Visitors to the site will now find a banner informing them that the domain has been seized by the above authorities and that the website’s operation has been suspended.

At the moment, at least three of the main websites that were competing with WeLeakInfo remain online, according to ZDNet.