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Dutch police shut down Revenge porn forum “Anon-IB”

Anon-IB, easily one of the most notorious revenge porn chan websites has been shut down by the Dutch police. The announcement by the police came on Thursday, with the law enforcers also adding that the shutdown was a culmination of a year-long investigation. The site’s servers were seized and hundreds of photos featuring women who had been targeted by hackers were exposed. Investigations are still ongoing.

In the same operation, there are men aged 35, 28, and 31 who were arrested and charged with computer intrusion and spreading of nude photos. Also, the police announced that they had confiscated data from two more individuals linked to the forum, 19-year-old from Terneuzen and a 26-year-old from Geleen. The five were some of the most active posters of nude photos and police were able to track them because they didn’t hide their IP addresses.

Revenge porn has been rampant on the internet with mainstream sites like Facebook and Google unable to rein in on the practice. Anon-IB has been one of the largest websites serving as a host f0r revenge porn, with the site gaining popularity or notoriety (depending with which side of the fence you stand) in 2014 with Celebgate (Fappening) scandal where nude photos of celebs were posted on the site. The site has since grown in leaps and bounds, with users flocking the site to post nude images of women taken without their consent. Some of the categories on the site included compromised images of passed out women while nude photos of underage schoolgirls made their way to the site.

There was even an entire section dedicated to sharing nude photos of military service members. According to multiple reports, these threads were organized by branch, where users would trade nude photos of female service members familiar to them. The users even encouraged each other to steal phones belonging to the servicewomen and congratulate each other for ‘winning’.

Celebrated the move

Following the announcement, a group of women dedicated to fighting nonconsensual image-sharing celebrated the move. The group going by the acronym BADASS said in a statement by its founder Katelyn Bowden: “We are so grateful to finally see someone take this form of victimization as seriously as it should be,” she said. “Anon-IB served no purpose but to harm and exploit women globally, and BADASS is incredibly grateful to the Dutch Police for finally putting an end to this awful excuse for an image board.”

According to Bowden, the group had almost grown tired of waiting for arrests, which she admitted was a difficult process considering the advanced technology used to hide the identity of the posters.

Hacking

According to the Dutch police, users not only uploaded photos they had obtained as revenge porn, but they also used to actively hack women’s phones, emails, social media accounts and cloud storage and steal nude photos, which they would then post on the site without the women’s permission. On the Anon-IB forum, users would also ask for help from each other to obtain nude photos of specific individuals before proceeding to share them with each other “in hidden places in the web.”

These were not properly secured and therefore relatively easy to hack,” police said. “The suspects were able to capture sexually explicit footage from a few hundred women without the victims being aware of it.”

Reports indicate that the investigations have been ongoing since March last year when the police received a complaint from an unnamed woman whose private photos ‘mysteriously’ appeared online without her consent. One suspect was promptly arrested following the complaint and a stash of stolen photos from multiple women found in his possession.

In connection, law enforcement authorities in Belgium discovered a huge cloud database on a New Zealand server, a stash they shared with their Dutch counterparts. After a thorough examination of the database, the women targeted by Anon-IB will be informed, said the authorities.

Apart from storing the nude photos, the site also used to host tutorials on how to hack other people’s online accounts. You would find entire threads dedicated to means of obtaining publicly leaked data, extracting passwords and using them to hack people’s online accounts searching for nudes.  ThePornDude also established that some Anon-IB users even used to extort their victims either for cryptocurrency or more nude photos.

In many cases, most of the victims were unaware that they had been hacked. Before it was shut down, the forum was home to over 2,000 registered users and also hosted links to over 30,000 images and videos. Note that all Anon-IB domains are currently down so you’ll need to take your revenge porn photos/videos elsewhere.

With the confiscation of a server, the police have taken a hackers forum offline,” reads a statement shared by the police. “The suspects were able to access the e-mail accounts, social media profiles, and cloud storage services of many hundreds of women. The suspects met these women on the street, tried to get their name out and then hack them,” continued the statement.

Conclusion

The shutting d0wn of Anon-IB may not necessarily mean the end to nonconsensual image-sharing, with users likely to move on to more sophisticated platforms. At Anon-IB, there was the talk of sharing images by Discord, which is an invite-only online chat platform traditionally used by gamers. However, Discord’s chief marketing officer was quick to brush off such suggestions, saying the company had a strict policy against nonconsensual photo sharing and if it happened, it would result to an “instant shutdown” of the servers and arrest of those involved. But as history has taught us, that’s easier said than done.

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