There was a big win for the good guys against the bad guys this week. On December 13, 2023, after obtaining an order from the federal court in the Southern District of New York to seize U.S. based infrastructure and take offline websites used by a group Microsoft identifies as Storm-1152, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit disrupted:
- Hotmailbox.me, a website selling fraudulent Microsoft Outlook accounts
- 1stCAPTCHA, AnyCAPTCHA, and NoneCAPTCHA, websites that facilitate the tooling, infrastructure, and selling of the CAPTCHA solve service to bypass the confirmation of use and account setup by a real person. These sites sold identity verification bypass tools for other technology platforms
- The social media sites actively used to market these services
The takedown is impressive and outlined in detail by Amy Hogan-Burney, General Manager, Associate General Counsel, Cybersecurity Policy & Protection at Microsoft. According to Hogan-Burney, “Fraudulent online accounts act as the gateway to a host of cybercrime, including mass phishing, identity theft and fraud, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.” She issues a missive to cybercriminals, “We are sending a strong message to those who seek to create, sell or distribute fraudulent Microsoft products for cybercrime: We are watching, taking notice and will act to protect our customers.” You go, Microsoft!