Not long ago, PCs compromised by malware were put to a limited number of fraudulent uses, including spam, click fraud and denial-of-service attacks. These days, computer crooks are extracting and selling a much broader array of data stolen from hacked systems, including passwords and associated email credentials tied to a variety of online retailers.
At the forefront of this trend are the botnet creation kits like Citadel, ZeuS and SpyEye, which make it simple for miscreants to assemble collections of compromised machines. By default, most bot malware will extract any passwords stored in the victim PC’s browser, and will intercept and record any credentials submitted in Web forms, such as when a user enters his credit card number, address, etc. at an online retail shop.
Some of the most valuable data extracted from hacked PCs is bank login information. But non-financial logins also have value, particularly for shady online shops that collect and resell this information.
Logins for everything from Amazon.com to Walmart.com often are resold — either in bulk, or separately by retailer name — on underground crime forums. A miscreant who operates a Citadel botnet of respectable size (a few thousand bots, e.g.) can expect to quickly accumulate huge volumes of “logs,” records of user credentials and browsing history from victim PCs. Without even looking that hard, I found several individuals on Underweb forums selling bulk access to their botnet logs; for example, one Andromeda bot user was selling access to 6 gigabytes of bot logs for a flat rate of $150.
Increasingly, miscreants are setting up their own storefronts to sell stolen credentials for an entire shopping mall of online retail establishments. Freshtools, for example, sells purloined usernames and passwords for working accounts at overstock.com, dell.com, walmart.com, all for $2 each. The site also sells fedex.com and ups.com accounts for $5 a pop, no doubt to enable fraudulent reshipping schemes. Accounts that come with credentials to the email addresses tied to each site can fetch a dollar or two more.
Another store widely advertised in the Underweb (see screenshot above) pimps credentials for a far broader array of retailers, most of which can be had for $2, including amazon.com, apple.com, autotrader.co.uk, bestbuy.com, bloomgingdales.com, bol.com, cdw.com, drugstore.com, ebay.co.uk, ebay.com, facebook.com, gamestop.com, gumtree.com, kohls.com, logmein.com, lowes.com, macys.com, mylikes.com, newegg.com, next.co.uk.com, okpay.com, paypal.com, payza.com, runescape.com, sephora.com, skype.com, target.com, toysrus.com, ukash.com, verizon.com, walmart.com, xoom.com and zappos.com. Accounts at these retailers that have credit cards or bank accounts tied to them command higher prices.
These shops are just one example of a concept that I have been trying to get across to readers about the many, many uses of a hacked PC. One of the ideas I attempted to communicate with that hacked PC graphic is that nearly every aspect of a hacked computer and a user’s online life can be and has been commoditized. If it has value and can be resold, you can be sure there is a service or product offered in the cybercriminal underground to monetize it. Once again, I haven’t yet found an exception to this rule.