911[.]re, a proxy service that since 2015 has sold access to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers daily, announced this week that it is shutting down in the wake of a data breach that destroyed key components of its business operations. The abrupt closure comes ten days after KrebsOnSecurity published an in-depth look at 911 and its connections to shady pay-per-install affiliate programs that secretly bundled 911’s proxy software with other titles, including “free” utilities and pirated software.
For the past seven years, an online service known as 911 has sold access to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers daily, allowing customers to route malicious traffic through PCs in virtually any country or city around the globe — but predominantly in the United States. The proxy service says its network is made up entirely of users who voluntarily install the proxy software. But new research shows 911 has a long history of purchasing installations via shady “pay-per-install” affiliate marketing schemes, some of which 911 operated on its own.
Over the past 15 years, a cybercrime anonymity service known as VIP72 has enabled countless fraudsters to mask their true location online by routing their traffic through millions of malware-infected systems. But roughly two week ago, VIP72’s online storefront — which sold access to more than 30,000 compromised PCs — simply vanished.