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‘Extreme’ user abuse leads AnonFiles operators to shut down hosting service

Popular online file hosting platform AnonFiles has shut down, with administrators saying they were fed up with “the extreme volumes” of abuse of its services.

Less than a week earlier, users said they were having trouble uploading documents to AnonFiles. Then, the website stopped working altogether.

Now, instead of the regular interface, the site shows messages from administrators on a white background.

“After trying endlessly for two years to run a file-sharing site with user anonymity we have been tired of handling the extreme volumes of people abusing it and the headaches it has created for us,” the message said.

AnonFiles claims to have hosted “tens of million uploads and many petabytes” of data. It allowed users to share documents, images, videos, and other files for free and without requiring them to create an account.

The website had over 18 million monthly users, according to Similarweb.

However, because of its simplicity and anonymity, Anonfiles was also used for sharing copyrighted material, illegal content and malware. "The closure of Anonfiles will hardly be noticed by anyone using it for legitimate purposes," said Pieter Arntz, malware intelligence researcher at Malwarebytes. "Most legitimate users had already given up on the site due to the abundance of aggressive advertising on the platform."

The platform administrators said they tried to ban hundreds of thousands of malicious files automatically, but the abuse didn’t stop. At some point, they didn't even care if they accidentally deleted thousands of files that didn’t violate any rules, they said.

“This is not the kind of work we imagined when acquiring it and recently our proxy provider shut us down,” they said in a statement. The admins are now trying to find a buyer for the web domain.

Arntz said there may be a new service that pops up that allows for anonymous file sharing, but it may be offered only to the highest bidders. "If that’s the case, it will make life a bit harder for cybercriminals just starting out and to find the return on investment for less profitable crimes."

Back in 2021, researchers discovered that files downloaded from the website could infect a device with seven different types of malware, showing that AnonFiles was heavily compromised by bad actors.

Anyone could be a target. As researchers mentioned before, even users of cybercrime forums can fall victim to infections from compromised sites.

On Twitter and Reddit, users sadly said goodbye to the service, praising its reliability and simplicity. Now they are looking for alternatives.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.