Ukrainian authorities have shut down a website for creators of viruses and other types of malware, in an effort to shut some of the windows to cybercrime available in the country. The forum, called VX Heavens, let creators of malicious software exchange tips and tricks, and offered tutorials and samples of malicious code for its readers.
VX Heavens posted a note regarding the takedown, saying that despite its many years of operation and “professional quality information on systems security and computer virology,” it could not continue to operate until the authorities close the case. Several sources including Naked Security and The Register say the site primarily catered to old-school hackers and had little to do with the kind of high-stakes financial fraud that Ukrainian authorities have yet to fully tackle. Still, the site supported people who worked on various types of malware (VX is shorthand for “Virus eXchange”), and Ukrainian criminal code forbids creating “malicious programs with an intent to sell or spread them.”
Cybersecurity experts and government entities have long seen Ukraine as a locus for Internet crime, and recent moves by authorities might show that the country is attempting to rectify that reputation. In 2009, the FBI stationed a temporary supervisory special agent to help the government deal with cybercrimes that have cost millions of dollars in damages, not least to US financial companies.