Darkweb VPN Service ‘Safe-Inet’ Seized by the German Police

By Bill Toulas / December 23, 2020

‘Safe-Inet’ has been seized by the German Reutlingen Police, who worked with Europol and coordinated with the FBI as well as the Swiss, French, Dutch police to find out more about the operators and the users of the network. The service had servers in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and the United States, and all of them were identified during the investigation and taken offline now.

Safe-Inet was one of the most popular VPN service choices among cyber-criminals, trusted for carrying out ransomware operations, e-skimming campaigns, malware distribution, etc. It was up and running for over a decade now, so it had proven its reliability as a service. If featured five layers of anonymizing VPN connections, making sure that there’s such a deep level of encryption in the traffic data that unmasking it all would be next to impossible. For this reason, the service charged a premium price to its users, so it was only meant to be used by “serious” actors.

The law enforcement agents who investigated the case report that they were able to identify at least 250 companies from around the globe that were compromised by malicious actors who hid behind Safe-Inet’s VPN services. All of these entities have been warned by the police to take protective measures now.

As for the cyber-criminals who were using Safe-Inet, Interpol states that individual investigations that target many of them are already underway. Thus, we may soon see some arrests of high-profile hackers from various corners of the world. Safe-Inet may have been very strong in terms of security and encryption, but logging user data on its servers is not helping the authorities find out who used it. Obviously, these services don’t go through third-party audits and don’t have privacy policies in place.

Every fragment of evidence or clue is helpful in this effort, but we can’t say for sure if the investigators really have everything they need in their hands. If they did, maybe they wouldn’t have chosen to warn cybercriminals that “they can run, but they cannot hide.” Hopefully, they’re just that confident in the effectiveness of international cooperations, and the truth is that the seizure of Safe-Inet was an impressive feat on its own.

Of course, there are other “bulletproof” VPN service providers out there. Still, every seizure is a blow both in the practical sense and also in the psychological status of those using and those willing to offer services of this kind.

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