FBI arrests alleged head of BreachForums criminal market

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An American believed to be behind the BreachForum criminal marketplace for selling stolen data has been arrested in a community just north of New York City.

According to the FBI affidavit Filed in the Southern District of New York and posted by a court-monitored website, Conor Brian Fitzpatrick is believed to be the forum’s administrator, who used the alias Pompompurin.

He was arrested Wednesday in Peekskill, N.Y., and charged with conspiracy to entrap persons for the purpose of selling unauthorized access devices.

“When I arrested the defendant on March 15, 2023, he told me in substance and in part that: a) his name was Conor Brian Fitzpatrick; b) he used the alias “Pompompurin” and c) he was the owner and administrator of “BreachForum”, the affidavit said.

According to Internet intelligence firm Webz.ioBreachForum was the top hacker website in 2022 with 225,000 registered members and 740,000 posts. It was created in April 2022, three weeks after police raided and seized RedForum. Pompompurin was very active on the redforums and apparently decided to create a replacement. Within six months, BreachForum had become one of the most popular platforms for hacking discussions, including the trading of leaked data.

Maybe that alone was enough to put Pompompurin on the FBI’s radar. But the agency had a big incentive: In November, 2021, the fbi.gov domain name and Internet address was hacked and thousands of fake emails were sent about a cybercrime investigation. According to cyber security reporter Brian KrebsPompompurin was behind it.

Sometime law enforcement may follow the breachforum. according to cybernewsLast November BreachForum’s domain was suspended, however the site continued to operate.

krebs report BreachForum continues to operate even after that arrest. However, there’s a good chance that its database – and information about the posters – is now in the hands of US law enforcement.

According to Webz.io, participants were not required to create an account to gain access to BreachForums. Instead, there were premium sections and posts where content was restricted, and available only to registered users. Some content can only be accessed by paying users.

The platform issues credits to reward users for their contributions. Credits could also be purchased and then used to unlock hidden content such as leaked databases and compromised accounts.

ImmunoWeb CEO Ilya Kolochenko called the arrest “a remarkable success for the FBI and its partner agencies, sending a clear message to cybercriminals that high-profile breaches of law enforcement agencies will not be tolerated.” The impact is particularly amplified by the fact that following several successful joint raids by US and European law enforcement agencies in 2022, most cybercrime groups and their leaders have become paranoidally prudent in avoiding detection and arrest. Proving Fitzpatrick’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court will be a challenging task for prosecutors, who may consider a guilty plea.

From a strategic perspective, he said, the arrest is unlikely to be a tectonic shift in cybercrime. Once one underground platform disappears, it is quickly replaced by another, he said – sometimes by multiple successors at once. “The formidable hydra of modern cybercrime continues to grow, supported by record profits from illegal profits that, among other things, allow the best talent from the industry to be hired. Cyber ​​mercenary groups are among the top cyber security vendors. offer ten times more remuneration than they can pay, let alone success fees and bonuses.

“Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have become vastly under-funded and understaffed, unable to deal with mushrooming cyber fraud and crime. Worst of all, amid a worsening climate of political and financial uncertainty, international cooperation – which “Absolutely essential for the efficient investigation and prosecution of crime – is at an unprecedentedly low level. Without a globally coordinated effort to rein in cyber gangs, chaos and anarchy will prevail in the digital realm.”

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