Researchers: Weak Security Defaults Enabled Squarespace Domains Hijacks

July 15, 2024

At least a dozen organizations with domain names at domain registrar Squarespace saw their websites hijacked last week. Squarespace bought all assets of Google Domains a year ago, but many customers still haven’t set up their new accounts. Experts say malicious hackers learned they could commandeer any migrated Squarespace accounts that hadn’t yet been registered, merely by supplying an email address tied to an existing domain.

Until this past weekend, Squarespace’s website had an option to log in via email.

The Squarespace domain hijacks, which took place between July 9 and July 12, appear to have mostly targeted cryptocurrency businesses, including Celer Network, Compound Finance, Pendle Finance, and Unstoppable Domains. In some cases, the attackers were able to redirect the hijacked domains to phishing sites set up to steal visitors’ cryptocurrency funds.

New York City-based Squarespace purchased roughly 10 million domain names from Google Domains in June 2023, and it has been gradually migrating those domains to its service ever since. Squarespace has not responded to a request for comment, nor has it issued a statement about the attacks.

But an analysis released by security experts at Metamask and Paradigm finds the most likely explanation for what happened is that Squarespace assumed all users migrating from Google Domains would select the social login options — such “Continue with Google” or “Continue with Apple” — as opposed to the “Continue with email” choice.

Taylor Monahan, lead product manager at Metamask, said Squarespace never accounted for the possibility that a threat actor might sign up for an account using an email associated with a recently-migrated domain before the legitimate email holder created the account themselves.

“Thus nothing actually stops them from trying to login with an email,” Monahan told KrebsOnSecurity. “And since there’s no password on the account, it just shoots them to the ‘create password for your new account’ flow. And since the account is half-initialized on the backend, they now have access to the domain in question.”

What’s more, Monahan said, Squarespace did not require email verification for new accounts created with a password.

“The domains being migrated from Google to Squarespace are known,” Monahan said. “It’s either public or easily discernible info which email addresses have admin of a domain. And if that email never sets up their account on Squarespace — say because the billing admin left the company five years ago or folks just ignored the email — anyone who enters that email@domain in the squarespace form now has full access to control to the domain.” Continue reading

Crooks Steal Phone, SMS Records for Nearly All AT&T Customers

July 12, 2024

AT&T Corp. disclosed today that a new data breach has exposed phone call and text message records for roughly 110 million people — nearly all of its customers. AT&T said it delayed disclosing the incident in response to “national security and public safety concerns,” noting that some of the records included data that could be used to determine where a call was made or text message sent. AT&T also acknowledged the customer records were exposed in a cloud database that was protected only by a username and password (no multi-factor authentication needed).

In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today, AT&T said cyber intruders accessed an AT&T workspace on a third-party cloud platform in April, downloading files containing customer call and text interactions between May 1 and October 31, 2022, as well as on January 2, 2023.

The company said the stolen data includes records of calls and texts for mobile providers that resell AT&T’s service, but that it does not include the content of calls or texts, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, or any other personally identifiable information.

However, the company said a subset of stolen records included information about the location of cellular communications towers closest to the subscriber, data that could be used to determine the approximate location of the customer device initiating or receiving those text messages or phone calls.

“While the data does not include customer names, there are often ways, using publicly available online tools, to find the name associated with a specific telephone number,” AT&T allowed.

AT&T’s said it learned of the breach on April 19, but delayed disclosing it at the request of federal investigators. The company’s SEC disclosure says at least one individual has been detained by the authorities in connection with the breach.

In a written statement shared with KrebsOnSecurity, the FBI confirmed that it asked AT&T to delay notifying affected customers.

“Shortly after identifying a potential breach to customer data and before making its materiality decision, AT&T contacted the FBI to report the incident,” the FBI statement reads. “In assessing the nature of the breach, all parties discussed a potential delay to public reporting under Item 1.05(c) of the SEC Rule, due to potential risks to national security and/or public safety. AT&T, FBI, and DOJ worked collaboratively through the first and second delay process, all while sharing key threat intelligence to bolster FBI investigative equities and to assist AT&T’s incident response work.”

Techcrunch quoted an AT&T spokesperson saying the customer data was stolen as a result of a still-unfolding data breach involving more than 160 customers of the cloud data provider Snowflake.

Earlier this year, malicious hackers figured out that many major companies have uploaded massive amounts of valuable and sensitive customer data to Snowflake servers, all the while protecting those Snowflake accounts with little more than a username and password. Continue reading


The Stark Truth Behind the Resurgence of Russia’s Fin7

July 10, 2024

The Russia-based cybercrime group dubbed “Fin7,” known for phishing and malware attacks that have cost victim organizations an estimated $3 billion in losses since 2013, was declared dead last year by U.S. authorities. But experts say Fin7 has roared back to life in 2024 — setting up thousands of websites mimicking a range of media and technology companies — with the help of Stark Industries Solutions, a sprawling hosting provider that is a persistent source of cyberattacks against enemies of Russia.

In May 2023, the U.S. attorney for Washington state declared “Fin7 is an entity no more,” after prosecutors secured convictions and prison sentences against three men found to be high-level Fin7 hackers or managers. This was a bold declaration against a group that the U.S. Department of Justice described as a criminal enterprise with more than 70 people organized into distinct business units and teams.

The first signs of Fin7’s revival came in April 2024, when Blackberry wrote about an intrusion at a large automotive firm that began with malware served by a typosquatting attack targeting people searching for a popular free network scanning tool.

Now, researchers at security firm Silent Push say they have devised a way to map out Fin7’s rapidly regrowing cybercrime infrastructure, which includes more than 4,000 hosts that employ a range of exploits, from typosquatting and booby-trapped ads to malicious browser extensions and spearphishing domains.

Silent Push said it found Fin7 domains targeting or spoofing brands including American Express, Affinity Energy, Airtable, Alliant, Android Developer, Asana, Bitwarden, Bloomberg, Cisco (Webex), CNN, Costco, Dropbox, Grammarly, Google,, Harvard, Lexis Nexis, Meta, Microsoft 365, Midjourney, Netflix, Paycor, Quickbooks, Quicken, Reuters, Regions Bank Onepass, RuPay, SAP (Ariba), Trezor, Twitter/X, Wall Street Journal, Westlaw, and Zoom, among others.

Zach Edwards, senior threat analyst at Silent Push, said many of the Fin7 domains are innocuous-looking websites for generic businesses that sometimes include text from default website templates (the content on these sites often has nothing to do with the entity’s stated business or mission).

Edwards said Fin7 does this to “age” the domains and to give them a positive or at least benign reputation before they’re eventually converted for use in hosting brand-specific phishing pages.

“It took them six to nine months to ramp up, but ever since January of this year they have been humming, building a giant phishing infrastructure and aging domains,” Edwards said of the cybercrime group.

In typosquatting attacks, Fin7 registers domains that are similar to those for popular free software tools. Those look-alike domains are then advertised on Google so that sponsored links to them show up prominently in search results, which is usually above the legitimate source of the software in question.

A malicious site spoofing FreeCAD showed up prominently as a sponsored result in Google search results earlier this year.

According to Silent Push, the software currently being targeted by Fin7 includes 7-zip, PuTTY, ProtectedPDFViewer, AIMP, Notepad++, Advanced IP Scanner, AnyDesk, pgAdmin, AutoDesk, Bitwarden, Rest Proxy, Python, Sublime Text, and Node.js. Continue reading

Microsoft Patch Tuesday, July 2024 Edition

July 9, 2024

Microsoft Corp. today issued software updates to plug at least 139 security holes in various flavors of Windows and other Microsoft products. Redmond says attackers are already exploiting at least two of the vulnerabilities in active attacks against Windows users.

The first Microsoft zero-day this month is CVE-2024-38080, a bug in the Windows Hyper-V component that affects Windows 11 and Windows Server 2022 systems. CVE-2024-38080 allows an attacker to increase their account privileges on a Windows machine. Although Microsoft says this flaw is being exploited, it has offered scant details about its exploitation.

The other zero-day is CVE-2024-38112, which is a weakness in MSHTML, the proprietary engine of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. Kevin Breen, senior director of threat research at Immersive Labs, said exploitation of CVE-2024-38112 likely requires the use of an “attack chain” of exploits or programmatic changes on the target host, a la Microsoft’s description: “Successful exploitation of this vulnerability requires an attacker to take additional actions prior to exploitation to prepare the target environment.”

“Despite the lack of details given in the initial advisory, this vulnerability affects all hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 onwards, including clients,” Breen said. “Due to active exploitation in the wild this one should be prioritized for patching.”

Satnam Narang, senior staff research engineer at Tenable, called special attention to CVE-2024-38021, a remote code execution flaw in Microsoft Office. Attacks on this weakness would lead to the disclosure of NTLM hashes, which could be leveraged as part of an NTLM relay or “pass the hash” attack, which lets an attacker masquerade as a legitimate user without ever having to log in.

“One of the more successful attack campaigns from 2023 used CVE-2023-23397, an elevation of privilege bug in Microsoft Outlook that could also leak NTLM hashes,” Narang said. “However, CVE-2024-38021 is limited by the fact that the Preview Pane is not an attack vector, which means that exploitation would not occur just by simply previewing the file.”

The security firm Morphisec, credited with reporting CVE-2024-38021 to Microsoft, said it respectfully disagrees with Microsoft’s “important” severity rating, arguing the Office flaw deserves a more dire “critical” rating given how easy it is for attackers to exploit.

“Their assessment differentiates between trusted and untrusted senders, noting that while the vulnerability is zero-click for trusted senders, it requires one click user interaction for untrusted senders,” Morphisec’s Michael Gorelik said in a blog post about their discovery. “This reassessment is crucial to reflect the true risk and ensure adequate attention and resources are allocated for mitigation.”

In last month’s Patch Tuesday, Microsoft fixed a flaw in its Windows WiFi driver that attackers could use to install malicious software just by sending a vulnerable Windows host a specially crafted data packet over a local network. Jason Kikta at Automox said this month’s CVE-2024-38053 — a security weakness in Windows Layer Two Bridge Network — is another local network “ping-of-death” vulnerability that should be a priority for road warriors to patch. Continue reading

The Not-So-Secret Network Access Broker x999xx

July 3, 2024

Most accomplished cybercriminals go out of their way to separate their real names from their hacker handles. But among certain old-school Russian hackers it is not uncommon to find major players who have done little to prevent people from figuring out who they are in real life. A case study in this phenomenon is “x999xx,” the nickname chosen by a venerated Russian hacker who specializes in providing the initial network access to various ransomware groups.

x999xx is a well-known “access broker” who frequently sells access to hacked corporate networks — usually in the form of remote access credentials — as well as compromised databases containing large amounts of personal and financial data.

In an analysis published in February 2019, cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint called x999xx one of the most senior and prolific members of the top-tier Russian-language cybercrime forum Exploit, where x999xx could be seen frequently advertising the sale of stolen databases and network credentials.

In August 2023, x999xx sold access to a company that develops software for the real estate industry. In July 2023, x999xx advertised the sale of Social Security numbers, names, and birthdays for the citizenry of an entire U.S. state (unnamed in the auction).

A month earlier, x999xx posted a sales thread for 80 databases taken from Australia’s largest retail company. “You may use this data to demand a ransom or do something different with it,” x999xx wrote on Exploit. “Unfortunately, the flaw was patched fast. [+] no one has used the data yet [+] the data hasn’t been used to send spam [+] the data is waiting for its time.”

In October 2022, x999xx sold administrative access to a U.S. healthcare provider. Continue reading

KrebsOnSecurity Threatened with Defamation Lawsuit Over Fake Radaris CEO

June 20, 2024

On March 8, 2024, KrebsOnSecurity published a deep dive on the consumer data broker Radaris, showing how the original owners are two men in Massachusetts who operated multiple Russian language dating services and affiliate programs, in addition to a dizzying array of people-search websites. The subjects of that piece are threatening to sue KrebsOnSecurity for defamation unless the story is retracted. Meanwhile, their attorney has admitted that the person Radaris named as the CEO from its inception is a fabricated identity.

Radaris is just one cog in a sprawling network of people-search properties online that sell highly detailed background reports on U.S. consumers and businesses. Those reports typically include the subject’s current and previous addresses, partial Social Security numbers, any known licenses, email addresses and phone numbers, as well as the same information for any of their immediate relatives.

Radaris has a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to responding to consumers seeking to have their reports removed from its various people-search services. That poor reputation, combined with indications that the true founders of Radaris have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal their stewardship of the company, was what prompted KrebsOnSecurity to investigate the origins of Radaris in the first place.

On April 18, KrebsOnSecurity received a certified letter (PDF) from Valentin “Val” Gurvits, an attorney with the Boston Law Group, stating that KrebsOnSecurity would face a withering defamation lawsuit unless the Radaris story was immediately retracted and an apology issued to the two brothers named in the story as co-founders.

That March story worked backwards from the email address used to register, and charted an impressive array of data broker companies created over the past 15 years by Massachusetts residents Dmitry and Igor Lubarsky (also sometimes spelled Lybarsky or Lubarski). Dmitry goes by “Dan,” and Igor uses the name “Gary.”

Those businesses included numerous websites marketed to Russian-speaking people who are new to the United States, such as,,,,, etc. Other domains connected to the Lubarskys included Russian-language dating and adult websites, as well as affiliate programs for their international calling card businesses.

A mind map of various entities apparently tied to Radaris and the company’s co-founders. Click to enlarge.

The story on Radaris noted that the Lubarsky brothers registered most of their businesses using a made-up name — “Gary Norden,” sometimes called Gary Nord or Gary Nard.

Mr. Gurvits’ letter stated emphatically that my reporting was lazy, mean-spirited, and obviously intended to smear the reputation of his clients. By way of example, Mr. Gurvits said the Lubarskys were actually Ukrainian, and that the story painted his clients in a negative light by insinuating that they were somehow associated with Radaris and with vaguely nefarious elements in Russia.

But more to the point, Mr. Gurvits said, neither of his clients were Gary Norden, and neither had ever held any leadership positions at Radaris, nor were they financial beneficiaries of the company in any way.

“Neither of my clients is a founder of Radaris, and neither of my clients is the CEOs of Radaris,” Gurvits wrote. “Additionally, presently and going back at least the past 10 years, neither of my clients are (or were) officers or employees of Radaris. Indeed, neither of them even owns (or ever owned) any equity in Radaris. In intentional disregard of these facts, the Article implies that my clients are personally responsible for Radaris’ actions. Therefore, you intentionally caused all negative allegations in the Article made with respect to Radaris to be imputed against my clients personally.”

Dan Lubarsky’s Facebook page, just prior to the March 8 story about Radaris, said he was from Moscow.

We took Mr. Gurvits’ word on the ethnicity of his clients, and adjusted the story to remove a single mention that they were Russian. We did so even though Dan Lubarsky’s own Facebook page said (until recently) that he was from Moscow, Russia.

KrebsOnSecurity asked Mr. Gurvits to explain precisely which other details in the story were incorrect, and replied that we would be happy to update the story with a correction if they could demonstrate any errors of fact or omission.

We also requested specifics about several aspects of the story, such as the identity of the current Radaris CEO — listed on the Radaris website as “Victor K.” Mr. Gurvits replied that Radaris is and always has been based in Ukraine, and that the company’s true founder “Eugene L” is based there.

While Radaris has claimed to have offices in Massachusetts, Cyprus and Latvia, its website has never mentioned Ukraine. Mr. Gurvits has not responded to requests for more information about the identities of “Eugene L” or “Victor K.”

Gurvits said he had no intention of doing anyone’s reporting for them, and that the Lubarskys were going to sue KrebsOnSecurity for defamation unless the story was retracted in full. KrebsOnSecurity replied that journalists often face challenges to things that they report, but it is more than rare for one who makes a challenge to take umbrage at being asked for supporting information.

On June 13, Mr. Gurvits sent another letter (PDF) that continued to claim KrebsOnSecurity was defaming his clients, only this time Gurvits said his clients would be satisfied if KrebsOnSecurity just removed their names from the story.

“Ultimately, my clients don’t care what you say about any of the websites or corporate entities in your Article, as long as you completely remove my clients’ names from the Article and cooperate with my clients to have copies of the Article where my clients’ names appear removed from the Internet,” Mr. Gurvits wrote.


The June 13 letter explained that the name Gary Norden was a pseudonym invented by the Radaris marketing division, but that neither of the Lubarsky brothers were Norden.

This was a startling admission, given that Radaris has quoted the fictitious Gary Norden in press releases published and paid for by Radaris, and in news media stories where the company is explicitly seeking money from investors. In other words, Radaris has been misrepresenting itself to investors from the beginning. Here’s a press release from Radaris that was published on PR Newswire in April 2011:

A press release published by Radaris in 2011 names the CEO of Radaris as Gary Norden, which was a fake name made up by Radaris’ marketing department.

In April 2014, the Boston Business Journal published a story (PDF) about Radaris that extolled the company’s rapid growth and considerable customer base. The story noted that, “to date, the company has raised less than $1 million from Cyprus-based investment company Difive.”

“We live in a world where information becomes much more broad and much more available every single day,” the Boston Business Journal quoted Radaris’ fake CEO Gary Norden, who by then had somehow been demoted from CEO to vice president of business development.

A Boston Business Journal story from April 2014 quotes the fictitious Radaris CEO Gary Norden.

“We decided there needs to be a service that allows for ease of monitoring of information about people,” the fake CEO said. The story went on to say Radaris was seeking to raise between $5 million and $7 million from investors in the ensuing months. Continue reading

Alleged Boss of ‘Scattered Spider’ Hacking Group Arrested

June 15, 2024

A 22-year-old man from the United Kingdom arrested this week in Spain is allegedly the ringleader of Scattered Spider, a cybercrime group suspected of hacking into Twilio, LastPass, DoorDash, Mailchimp, and nearly 130 other organizations over the past two years.

The Spanish daily Murcia Today reports the suspect was wanted by the FBI and arrested in Palma de Mallorca as he tried to board a flight to Italy.

A still frame from a video released by the Spanish national police shows Tylerb in custody at the airport.

“He stands accused of hacking into corporate accounts and stealing critical information, which allegedly enabled the group to access multi-million-dollar funds,” Murcia Today wrote. “According to Palma police, at one point he controlled Bitcoins worth $27 million.”

The cybercrime-focused Twitter/X account vx-underground said the U.K. man arrested was a SIM-swapper who went by the alias “Tyler.” In a SIM-swapping attack, crooks transfer the target’s phone number to a device they control and intercept any text messages or phone calls sent to the victim — including one-time passcodes for authentication, or password reset links sent via SMS.

“He is a known SIM-swapper and is allegedly involved with the infamous Scattered Spider group,” vx-underground wrote on June 15, referring to a prolific gang implicated in costly data ransom attacks at MGM and Caesars casinos in Las Vegas last year.

Sources familiar with the investigation told KrebsOnSecurity the accused is a 22-year-old from Dundee, Scotland named Tyler Buchanan, also allegedly known as “tylerb” on Telegram chat channels centered around SIM-swapping.

In January 2024, U.S. authorities arrested another alleged Scattered Spider member — 19-year-old Noah Michael Urban of Palm Coast, Fla. — and charged him with stealing at least $800,000 from five victims between August 2022 and March 2023. Urban allegedly went by the nicknames “Sosa” and “King Bob,” and is believed to be part of the same crew that hacked Twilio and a slew of other companies in 2022.

Investigators say Scattered Spider members are part of a more diffuse cybercriminal community online known as “The Com,” wherein hackers from different cliques boast loudly about high-profile cyber thefts that almost invariably begin with social engineering — tricking people over the phone, email or SMS into giving away credentials that allow remote access to corporate internal networks.

One of the more popular SIM-swapping channels on Telegram maintains a frequently updated leaderboard of the most accomplished SIM-swappers, indexed by their supposed conquests in stealing cryptocurrency. That leaderboard currently lists Sosa as #24 (out of 100), and Tylerb at #65. Continue reading

Patch Tuesday, June 2024 “Recall” Edition

June 11, 2024

Microsoft today released updates to fix more than 50 security vulnerabilities in Windows and related software, a relatively light Patch Tuesday this month for Windows users. The software giant also responded to a torrent of negative feedback on a new feature of Redmond’s flagship operating system that constantly takes screenshots of whatever users are doing on their computers, saying the feature would no longer be enabled by default.

Last month, Microsoft debuted Copilot+ PCs, an AI-enabled version of Windows. Copilot+ ships with a feature nobody asked for that Redmond has aptly dubbed Recall, which constantly takes screenshots of what the user is doing on their PC. Security experts roundly trashed Recall as a fancy keylogger, noting that it would be a gold mine of information for attackers if the user’s PC was compromised with malware.

Microsoft countered that Recall snapshots never leave the user’s system, and that even if attackers managed to hack a Copilot+ PC they would not be able to exfiltrate on-device Recall data. But that claim rang hollow after former Microsoft threat analyst Kevin Beaumont detailed on his blog how any user on the system (even a non-administrator) can export Recall data, which is just stored in an SQLite database locally.

“I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this is the dumbest cybersecurity move in a decade,” Beaumont said on Mastodon.

In a recent Risky Business podcast, host Patrick Gray noted that the screenshots created and indexed by Recall would be a boon to any attacker who suddenly finds himself in an unfamiliar environment.

“The first thing you want to do when you get on a machine if you’re up to no good is to figure out how someone did their job,” Gray said. “We saw that in the case of the SWIFT attacks against central banks years ago. Attackers had to do screen recordings to figure out how transfers work. And this could speed up that sort of discovery process.”

Responding to the withering criticism of Recall, Microsoft said last week that it will no longer be enabled by default on Copilot+ PCs. Continue reading

‘Operation Endgame’ Hits Malware Delivery Platforms

May 30, 2024

Law enforcement agencies in the United States and Europe today announced Operation Endgame, a coordinated action against some of the most popular cybercrime platforms for delivering ransomware and data-stealing malware. Dubbed “the largest ever operation against botnets,” the international effort is being billed as the opening salvo in an ongoing campaign targeting advanced malware “droppers” or “loaders” like IcedID, Smokeloader and Trickbot.

A frame from one of three animated videos released today in connection with Operation Endgame.

Operation Endgame targets the cybercrime ecosystem supporting droppers/loaders, slang terms used to describe tiny, custom-made programs designed to surreptitiously install malware onto a target system. Droppers are typically used in the initial stages of a breach, and they allow cybercriminals to bypass security measures and deploy additional harmful programs, including viruses, ransomware, or spyware.

Droppers like IcedID are most often deployed through email attachments, hacked websites, or bundled with legitimate software. For example, cybercriminals have long used paid ads on Google to trick people into installing malware disguised as popular free software, such as Microsoft Teams, Adobe Reader and Discord. In those cases, the dropper is the hidden component bundled with the legitimate software that quietly loads malware onto the user’s system.

Droppers remain such a critical, human-intensive component of nearly all major cybercrime enterprises that the most popular have turned into full-fledged cybercrime services of their own. By targeting the individuals who develop and maintain dropper services and their supporting infrastructure, authorities are hoping to disrupt multiple cybercriminal operations simultaneously.

According to a statement from the European police agency Europol, between May 27 and May 29, 2024 authorities arrested four suspects (one in Armenia and three in Ukraine), and disrupted or took down more than 100 Internet servers in Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine. Authorities say they also seized more than 2,000 domain names that supported dropper infrastructure online.

In addition, Europol released information on eight fugitives suspected of involvement in dropper services and who are wanted by Germany; their names and photos were added to Europol’s “Most Wanted” list on 30 May 2024. Continue reading

Is Your Computer Part of ‘The Largest Botnet Ever?’

May 29, 2024

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today said they arrested the alleged operator of 911 S5, a ten-year-old online anonymity service that was powered by what the director of the FBI called “likely the world’s largest botnet ever.” The arrest coincided with the seizure of the 911 S5 website and supporting infrastructure, which the government says turned computers running various “free VPN” products into Internet traffic relays that facilitated billions of dollars in online fraud and cybercrime.

The Cloud Router homepage, which was seized by the FBI this past weekend. Cloud Router was previously called 911 S5.

On May 24, authorities in Singapore arrested the alleged creator and operator of 911 S5, a 35-year-old Chinese national named YunHe Wang. In a statement on his arrest today, the DOJ said 911 S5 enabled cybercriminals to bypass financial fraud detection systems and steal billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers, and federal lending programs.

For example, the government estimates that 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised Internet addresses, resulting in a confirmed fraudulent loss exceeding $5.9 billion.

“Additionally, in evaluating suspected fraud loss to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, the United States estimates that more than 47,000 EIDL applications originated from IP addresses compromised by 911 S5,” the DOJ wrote. “Millions of dollars more were similarly identified by financial institutions in the United States as loss originating from IP addresses compromised by 911 S5.”

From 2015 to July 2022, 911 S5 sold access to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers daily, as “proxies” that allowed customers to route their Internet traffic through PCs in virtually any country or city around the globe — but predominantly in the United States.

911 S5 built its proxy network mainly by offering “free” virtual private networking (VPN) services. 911’s VPN performed largely as advertised for the user — allowing them to surf the web anonymously — but it also quietly turned the user’s computer into a traffic relay for paying 911 S5 customers.

911 S5’s reliability and extremely low prices quickly made it one of the most popular services among denizens of the cybercrime underground, and the service became almost shorthand for connecting to that “last mile” of cybercrime. Namely, the ability to route one’s malicious traffic through a computer that is geographically close to the consumer whose stolen credit card is about to be used, or whose bank account is about to be emptied.

The prices page for 911 S5, circa July 2022. $28 would let users cycle through 150 proxies on this popular service.

KrebsOnSecurity first identified Mr. Wang as the proprietor of the popular service in a deep dive on 911 S5 published in July 2022. That story showed that 911 S5 had a history of paying people to install its software by secretly bundling it with other software — including fake security updates for common programs like Flash Player, and “cracked” or pirated commercial software distributed on file-sharing networks.

Ten days later, 911 S5 closed up shop, claiming it had been hacked. But experts soon tracked the reemergence of the proxy network by another name: Cloud Router.

The announcement of Wang’s arrest came less than 24 hours after the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Wang and two associates, as well as several companies the men allegedly used to launder the nearly $100 million in proceeds from 911 S5 and Cloud Router customers.

Cloud Router’s homepage now features a notice saying the domain has been seized by the U.S. government. In addition, the DOJ says it worked with authorities in Singapore, Thailand and Germany to search residences tied to the defendant, and seized approximately $30 million in assets.

The Cloud Router homepage now features a seizure notice from the FBI in multiple languages.

Those assets included a 2022 Ferrari F8 Spider S-A, a BMW i8, a BMW X7 M50d, a Rolls Royce, more than a dozen domestic and international bank accounts, over two dozen cryptocurrency wallets, several luxury wristwatches, and 21 residential or investment properties. Continue reading