FBI Takes Down Russia-based Cyber Platform Selling Private Data and Contraband

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) took down the DEER.IO website, a known cybercrime platform based in Russia, along with Kirill Victorovich Firsov, its alleged administrator.

When you hear of personal information stolen in data breaches and sold on the black market, it usually means that it has ended up on websites such as DEER.IO. The main difference with this website is that it was accessible to the public, which made it a lot more visible.

The alleged website administrator, Kirill Victorovich Firsov, was arrested in New York on March 7th. He’s also a suspected hacker and used every opportunity to promote the website to other interested parties. The DEER.IO platform become operational sometime around October 2013 and claimed to have made sales exceeding $17 million.

DEER.IO allowed sellers to offers a wide range of personal data, from hacks or compromised U.S. and international financial and corporate sources.

“The DEER.IO platform offered a turnkey online storefront design and hosting platform, from which cybercriminals could advertise and sell their products (such as harvested credentials and hacked servers) and services (such as assistance performing a panoply of cyber hacking activities),” reads the FBI notification.

Cybercriminals who wanted to sell contraband or offer criminal services had to pay a monthly fee of just $12.50. Starting March 4, 2020, FBI agents purchased 1,100 gamer accounts for just $20, payable in Bitcoin, and found that 249 of the accounts could be easily compromised by using only the name and password. Once inside the account, criminals had direct access to payment methods, allowing them to perform more purchases.

The agents also bought 3,649 individual PII accounts for $692 in Bitcoin. Those accounts had names, dates of birth and U.S. Social Security numbers for multiple resident of San Diego County.

While DEER.IO is just one of the services taken down by law enforcement, many are still active. People have a number of options available to them if they want to safeguard their data. At the very least, they need to enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.

Another option would be to use the Digital Identity Protection service from Bitdefender, which constantly monitors the users’ online footprint, alerting them if anything private surfaces on the Internet.