In a global effort to combat the sale of stolen credentials, the FBI recently conducted “Operation Cookie Monster” which resulted in the take down of Genesis Market, one of the largest dark web marketplaces. This operation was conducted alongside law enforcement agencies from Germany, France, and Finland. As part of this operation, 120 people were arrested, and over twenty servers were seized as well as over $6 million worth of Bitcoin. Let’s explore what this takedown means for the dark web marketplace and how it impacts those who have had their credentials stolen.
What is Genesis Market?
Genesis Market is a dark web marketplace that allows users to buy and sell illegal goods anonymously using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Monero. It is estimated that Genesis Market had around 200,000 users at its peak. It was known for selling stolen credentials such as passwords, credit card information, social security numbers, login information for streaming services, and more. In addition to stolen credentials, Genesis Market was also used to sell drugs, weapons, counterfeit money and documents.
Impact on Stolen Credential Sales
The results of Operation Cookie Monster mean that the sale of stolen credentials has been drastically reduced on the dark web marketplace. According to recent data from Gemini Advisory LLC., there has been an 80% decrease in stolen credential sales since October 2020 when Operation Cookie Monster first took effect. This decrease in sales can be attributed both to the FBI’s efforts in taking down Genesis Market as well as other sites that have been taken down since then such as Wall Street Markets and White House Markets.
Statistics around Stolen Credentials
Stolen credentials are becoming increasingly common with multiple reports suggesting that millions of accounts are compromised each year. As reported by Symantec Norton Security Solutions in 2019, there were 4 billion records exposed due to data breaches which included email addresses and passwords for various accounts including streaming services like Netflix or Hulu as well as banking sites like Wells Fargo or Bank of America. Additionally, according to Experian’s 2021 Data Breach Industry Forecast report cybercrime damages are projected to cost more than $6 trillion annually by 2021 making stolen credentials even more valuable on the dark web marketplace.
Operation Cookie Monster has had a significant impact on reducing credential trafficking on the dark web marketplaces. The fact remains though that with billions of records being exposed each year due to data breaches it is still important for individuals to be aware and vigilant about protecting themselves online by setting up strong passwords and being mindful about where they share their personal information online. By doing so we can help protect ourselves against cybercrime but also reduce our chances of having our personal data sold on these illicit marketplaces altogether!