Law enforcement operation dismantled phishing-as-a-service platform LabHost

Pierluigi Paganini April 18, 2024

An international law enforcement operation led to the disruption of the prominent phishing-as-a-service platform LabHost.

An international law enforcement operation, codenamed Nebulae and coordinated by Europol, led to the disruption of LabHost, which is one of the world’s largest phishing-as-a-service platforms.

Law enforcement from 19 countries participated in the operation which resulted in the arrest of 37 individuals.

The phishing-as-a-service platform was available on the clear web and has been shut down by the police.

Between April 14th and April 17th, law enforcement agencies conducted searches at 70 addresses worldwide, leading to the arrest of the suspects. Four individuals, including the original developer of LabHost, were arrested in the United Kingdom.

Phishing as a service (PaaS) platforms provide phishing tools and resources to crooks, often for a fee or subscription. These tools typically include pre-designed phishing templates, email or text message sending capabilities, website hosting services for phishing pages. Most important PhaaS platforms also provide technical support to their customers.

LabHost was a prominent tool for cybercriminals globally, offering a subscription-based service that facilitated phishing attacks. The platform provided phishing kits, hosting infrastructure, interactive features for engaging victims, and campaign management tools. The investigation conducted by law enforcement revealed approximately 40,000 phishing domains associated with LabHost, which reached 10,000 users worldwide. Subscribers paid an average monthly fee of $249 for use the platform’s services. LabHost offered a selection of over 170 convincing fake websites for users to deploy with ease.

“What made LabHost particularly destructive was its integrated campaign management tool named LabRat. This feature allowed cybercriminals deploying the attacks to monitor and control those attacks in real time. LabRat was designed to capture two-factor authentication codes and credentials, allowing the criminals to bypass enhanced security measures.” reads the announcement published by Europol

Australian police arrested five individuals across the country as part of the operation, the authorities reported that more than 94,000 people in Australia were victims of the attacks launched through the platform.

“Australian offenders are allegedly among 10,000 cybercriminals globally who have used the platform, known as LabHost, to trick victims into providing their personal information, such as online banking logins, credit card details and passwords, through persistent phishing attacks sent via texts and emails.” reported the AFP.

“As a result of the Australian arm of the investigation, led by the AFP’s Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre (JCP3), more than 200 officers from the AFP and state and territory police were yesterday (17 April, 2024) involved in executing 22 search warrants across five states. This included 14 in Victoria, two in Queensland, three in NSW, one in South Australia and two in Western Australia. A Melbourne man and an Adelaide man, who police will allege were LabHost users, were arrested during the warrants and charged with cybercrime-related offences. Three Melbourne men were also arrested by Victoria Police and charged with drug-related offences.”

The U.K. Metropolitan Police said LabHost’s sites have ensnared approximately 70,000 victims in the UK alone. On a global scale, the service has acquired 480,000 card numbers, 64,000 PIN numbers, and over one million passwords for various online services. The actual number of victims is anticipated to surpass current estimates, with ongoing efforts focused on identifying and assisting as many affected individuals as feasible.

Operators behind the PhaaS received about £1 million in payments from criminal users since its launch.

Pierluigi Paganini

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook and Mastodon

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, PhaaS)

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