Police in Germany and nine other countries on Tuesday said they have taken down VPNLab.net, an online privacy service they said was used to help cybercriminals spread ransomware.
Led by the Hanover police department in Germany, authorities in the Netherlands, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Latvia, Ukraine, the U.S. and U.K. all coordinated operations on Monday against VPNLab.net, seizing 15 servers.
Europol said the service was “a popular choice for cybercriminals, who could use its services to carry on committing their crimes without fear of detection by authorities.”
A VPN, or virtual private network, allows internet users to browse the web while keeping their identities and locations hidden. The technology is widely used, including by companies to set up corporate home-working networks, and it is popular among ordinary users to protect things like online search histories, location tracking from government surveillance, online advertising and bypassing geoblocking restrictions for streaming services.
“Multiple investigations uncovered criminals using the VPNLab.net service to facilitate illicit activities such as malware distribution” including ransomware, Europol said, adding that the VPN also advertized its services on dark web forums.