Searches were carried out last Thursday at nine different locations in Ukraine as part of two criminal investigations into the illegal online market called xDedic, Europol announced on Monday.
The searches were carried out by members of the Ukrainian National Police and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, with the help of members of the Belgian Federal Computer Crime Unit (FCCU), Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Tampa (Florida, USA).
Several computer systems were seized and three Ukrainian suspects were interrogated. The xDedic online market has been rendered inaccessible by order of a US judge.
Access to tens of thousands of compromised servers, belonging to individuals as well as businesses from various sectors, educational organisations, government institutions, hospitals, and emergency services were offered for sale on xDedic.
RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) access to servers was sold for between $6 and $10,000.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Florida is conducting a criminal investigation into the criminal group behind the xDedic market.
In addition, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, and the Ukrainian prosecutor-general, are working on a joint investigation targeting a number of vendors on the platform, who offered a large number of pirated computer systems for sale in Belgium.
The Belgian authorities’ investigation of xDedic was launched in 2016 when they discovered that the site had been used to sell machine access to numerous Belgian companies. The investigation led to a cooperation agreement between Belgium, Ukraine, Eurojust and Europol in 2018.
Meanwhile, US authorities were conducting their own investigation into the site and its administrators. when it became apparent that the Belgian and US criminal investigations had common objectives, they began working closely together.
Europol and the Ukrainian National Cyberpolice provided significant support in analysing the content of the servers, helping to identify the administrators in Ukraine.
“Through their coordinated efforts, Belgian, Ukrainian and American judicial, prosecutorial and police authorities struck a devastating blow against the online marketplace for the illegal trade of hacked computer systems.” Eurojust said in a statement announcing the dismantling of xDedic.
Investigations continue in Belgium, Ukraine and the United States.