FBI Carries Out ‘Operation Cookie Monster,’ Shuts Down Stolen Password Site

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carried out “Operation Cookie Monster” alongside international law enforcement agencies on Tuesday, shutting down a stolen password website.

The site, Genesis Market, was shut down Tuesday after authorities discovered stolen personal data, including usernames, passwords and session tokens, according to The Verge.

Over 80 million account access credentials were illegally listed on the marketplace website, thieved from malware-infected computers globally, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Working across 45 of our FBI Field Offices and alongside our international partners, the Justice Department has launched an unprecedented takedown of a major criminal marketplace that enabled cybercriminals to victimize individuals, businesses, and governments around the world,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “Our seizure of Genesis Market should serve as a warning to cybercriminals who operate or use these criminal marketplaces: the Justice Department and our international partners will shut down your illegal activities, find you, and bring you to justice.”

Genesis Market emerged in March 2018, selling data from 1.5 million compromised devices. Financial sector, critical infrastructure and federal, state and local government agency data were advertised on this website. (RELATED: FBI, DOJ Investigating TikTok Parent Over Surveillance Of Americans: REPORT)

The marketplace also had its hand in the digital cookie jar, selling access to users’ cookies and browsers fingerprints that could allow hackers to bypass two-factor authentication protections.

Cookies are login tokens, or files websites store on an electronic device to show users are logged in by correctly entering a password and two-factor authentication information. In other words, cookies are the reason why websites stay logged into accounts each time the user visits. They are convenient but pose a security risk.

Seventeen countries were involved in the seizure of Genesis Market, according to Europol.

Law enforcement made 119 arrests, carried out 208 property searches and initiated 97 knock-and-talk measures in an international operation led by the FBI and Dutch National Police with a command post at Europol’s headquarters.