In a remarkable show of international cooperation, the FBI, alongside 17 other global law enforcement agencies, has brought down Genesis Market, an infamous online hub specializing in the trade of stolen credentials. Dubbed ‘Operation Cookie Monster,’ the massive crackdown has resulted in 119 arrests, striking a substantial blow against cybercrime.
Genesis Market, operational since March 2018, had become a major hotbed for illicit activities. The online marketplace trafficked in credentials stolen from over 1.5 million compromised computers worldwide, amassing a staggering total of more than 80 million credentials.
These stolen access credentials, connected to an array of sectors ranging from finance and critical infrastructure to federal, state, and local government agencies, were a major commodity on Genesis Market. Alongside credentials, the marketplace also traded in device fingerprints, which includes unique identifiers and browser cookies. These were employed by cybercriminals to sidestep anti-fraud detection systems employed by numerous websites.
Data gathered by cybersecurity firm Trellix indicates that malware linked to Genesis Market was detected across multiple countries, with the majority found in the U.S., Mexico, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Court documents have unveiled that the FBI gained backend access to Genesis Market’s servers twice, in December 2020 and May 2022. This access provided the FBI with information on approximately 59,000 users of the illegal marketplace.
Despite this significant success, law enforcement officials acknowledge that the fight against cybercrime is far from over. The aftermath of Genesis Market’s takedown is predicted to cause a ripple effect throughout the underground economy, as cybercriminals scramble to find alternatives. The emergence of a new dark web marketplace, STYX, catering primarily to financial fraud, money laundering, and identity theft, underlines this ongoing threat.
As we move further into the digital age, such victories as Operation Cookie Monster are essential, reminding us that constant vigilance is required to secure our online world against cyber threats.