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BreachForums Returns With A New Owner After ShinyHunters Retires

Law enforcement takedowns and 'honeypot' suspicions are just part of the hacker site's colorful history.

by Paul Shread June 17th, 2024

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The on-again, off-again saga of BreachForums took another twist in recent days with the news that the data leak forum apparently has a new owner.

ShinyHunters – who had reportedly retired after tiring of the pressure of running a notorious hacker forum – returned on June 14 to announce that the forum is now under the ownership of a threat actor operating under the new handle name “Anastasia.”

It’s not yet clear if the move will quell concerns that the forum has been taken over by law enforcement after a May 15 FBI-led takeover, but for now, BreachForums is up and running under its .st domain.

ShinyHunters Alludes to BreachForums Issues

ShinyHunters alluded to those issues in a post announcing the forum’s new owner (screenshot below).

“It’s hard to maintain motivation when you’re constantly getting accused of being a honeypot and at this point I’m burned out, hollow is burned out and we just want to move on to bigger things rather than the constant onslaught of users complaining about how we ran our forum,” ShinyHunters wrote. “Baphomet has done an incredible job of building new features for everyone, keeping everything together and maintaining the forum. Couldn’t have done it without him. We hope the forum can live on without us for a long time. Thank you all for your support. Goodbye.”

The announcement of a new BreachForums owner

While “User-Anastasia” is a new account, ShinyHunters referred to the new owner as “an OG some of you may remember.” Cyble threat researchers reported that Anastasia also goes by “Anastasia Belshaw.”

BreachForums Returns, Hackers Raise Suspicions

BreachForums was seized by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice in mid-May, with help from international law enforcement agencies, and Baphomet was allegedly arrested in that action.

However, just two weeks later, the forum returned, leading to suspicion among some threat actors that the site was operating as a “honeypot” or a sting operation under the control of the FBI.

To further complicate matters, the site went down again last week, possibly due to technical issues, and its associated Telegram channels disappeared too amid reports that ShinyHunters was retiring. A few days later came the announcement that Anastasia would take over the forum.

It remains to be seen what direction the forum will take under new ownership, but given the site’s volatile history, whatever is in store is certain to be eventful.

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