Crime Shop Sells Hacked Logins to Other Crime Shops

January 21, 2022

Up for the “Most Meta Cybercrime Offering” award this year is Accountz Club, a new cybercrime store that sells access to purloined accounts at services built for cybercriminals, including shops peddling stolen payment cards and identities, spamming tools, email and phone bombing services, and those selling authentication cookies for a slew of popular websites.

Criminals ripping off other crooks is a constant theme in the cybercrime underworld; Accountz Club’s slogan  — “the best autoshop for your favorite shops’ accounts” — just normalizes this activity by making logins stolen from users of various cybercrime shops for sale at a fraction of their account balances.

The site says it sells “cracked” accounts, or those that used passwords which could be easily guessed or enumerated by automated tools. All of the credentials being sold by Accountz provide access to services that in turn sell access to stolen information or hijacked property, as in the case of “bot shops” that resell access to infected computers.

One example is Genesis Market, where customers can search for stolen credentials and authentication cookies from a broad range of popular online destinations. Genesis even offers a custom-made web browser where you can load authentication cookies from botted PCs and waltz right into the account without having to enter a username or password or mess with multi-factor authentication.

Accountz is currently selling four different Genesis logins for about 40-50 percent of their unspent balances. Genesis mostly gets its inventory of botted computers and stolen logins from resellers who specialize in deploying infostealer malware via email and booby-trapped websites. Likewise, it appears Accountz also derives much of its stock from a handful of resellers, who presumably are the same ones doing the cybercrime service account cracking.

The Genesis bot shop.

In essence, Accountz customers are paying for illicit access to cybercrime services that sell access to compromised resources that can be abused for cybercrime. That’s seriously meta. Continue reading

IRS Will Soon Require Selfies for Online Access

January 19, 2022

If you created an online account to manage your tax records with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), those login credentials will cease to work later this year. The agency says that by the summer of 2022, the only way to log in to irs.gov will be through ID.me, an online identity verification service that requires applicants to submit copies of bills and identity documents, as well as a live video feed of their faces via a mobile device.

The IRS says it will require ID.me for all logins later this summer.

McLean, Va.-based ID.me was originally launched in 2010 with the goal of helping e-commerce sites validate the identities of customers who might be eligible for discounts at various retail establishments, such as veterans, teachers, students, nurses and first responders.

These days, ID.me is perhaps better known as the online identity verification service that many states now use to help stanch the loss of billions of dollars in unemployment insurance and pandemic assistance stolen each year by identity thieves. The privately-held company says it has approximately 64 million users, and gains roughly 145,000 new users each day.

Some 27 states already use ID.me to screen for identity thieves applying for benefits in someone else’s name, and now the IRS is joining them. The service requires applicants to supply a great deal more information than typically requested for online verification schemes, such as scans of their driver’s license or other government-issued ID, copies of utility or insurance bills, and details about their mobile phone service.

When an applicant doesn’t have one or more of the above — or if something about their application triggers potential fraud flags — ID.me may require a recorded, live video chat with the person applying for benefits.

Since my credentials at the IRS will soon no longer work, I opted to create an ID.me account and share the experience here. An important preface to this walk-through is that verifying one’s self with Id.me requires one to be able to take a live, video selfie — either with the camera on a mobile device or a webcam attached to a computer (your webcam must be able to open on the device you’re using to apply for the ID.me account). Continue reading

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At Request of U.S., Russia Rounds Up 14 REvil Ransomware Affiliates

January 14, 2022

The Russian government said today it arrested 14 people accused of working for “REvil,” a particularly aggressive ransomware group that has extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from victim organizations. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said the actions were taken in response to a request from U.S. officials, but many experts believe the crackdown is part of an effort to reduce tensions over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to station 100,000 troops along the nation’s border with Ukraine.

The FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square, Moscow. Image: Wikipedia.

The FSB said it arrested 14 REvil ransomware members, and searched more than two dozen addresses in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Lipetsk. As part of the raids, the FSB seized more than $600,000 US dollars, 426 million rubles (~$USD 5.5 million), 500,000 euros, and 20 “premium cars” purchased with funds obtained from cybercrime.

“The search activities were based on the appeal of the US authorities, who reported on the leader of the criminal community and his involvement in encroaching on the information resources of foreign high-tech companies by introducing malicious software, encrypting information and extorting money for its decryption,” the FSB said. “Representatives of the US competent authorities have been informed about the results of the operation.”

The FSB did not release the names of any of the individuals arrested, although a report from the Russian news agency TASS mentions two defendants: Roman Gennadyevich Muromsky, and Andrey Sergeevich Bessonov. Russian media outlet RIA Novosti released video footage from some of the raids:

REvil is widely thought to be a reincarnation of GandCrab, a Russian-language ransomware affiliate program that bragged of stealing more than $2 billion when it closed up shop in the summer of 2019. For roughly the next two years, REvil’s “Happy Blog” would churn out press releases naming and shaming dozens of new victims each week. A February 2021 analysis from researchers at IBM found the REvil gang earned more than $120 million in 2020 alone.

But all that changed last summer, when REvil associates working with another ransomware group — DarkSide — attacked Colonial Pipeline, causing fuel shortages and price spikes across the United States. Just months later, a multi-country law enforcement operation allowed investigators to hack into the REvil gang’s operations and force the group offline.

In November 2021, Europol announced it arrested seven REvil affliates who collectively made more than $230 million worth of ransom demands since 2019. At the same time, U.S. authorities unsealed two indictments against a pair of accused REvil cybercriminals, which referred to the men as “REvil Affiliate #22” and “REvil Affiliate #23.”

It is clear that U.S. authorities have known for some time the real names of REvil’s top captains and moneymakers. Last fall, President Biden told Putin that he expects Russia to act when the United States shares information on specific Russians involved in ransomware activity.

So why now? Russia has amassed approximately 100,000 troops along its southern border with Ukraine, and diplomatic efforts to defuse the situation have reportedly broken down. The Washington Post and other media outlets today report that the Biden administration has accused Moscow of sending saboteurs into Eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could give Putin a pretext for ordering an invasion.

“The most interesting thing about these arrests is the timing,” said Kevin Breen, director of threat research at Immersive Labs. “For years, Russian Government policy on cybercriminals has been less than proactive to say the least. With Russia and the US currently at the diplomatic table, these arrests are likely part of a far wider, multi-layered, political negotiation.”

President Biden has warned that Russia can expect severe sanctions should it choose to invade Ukraine. But Putin in turn has said such sanctions could cause a complete break in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of and former chief technology officer for the security firm CrowdStrike, called the REvil arrests in Russia “ransomware diplomacy.”

“This is Russian ransomware diplomacy,” Alperovitch said on Twitter. “It is a signal to the United States — if you don’t enact severe sanctions against us for invasion of Ukraine, we will continue to cooperate with you on ransomware investigations.”

The REvil arrests were announced as many government websites in Ukraine were defaced by hackers with an ominous message warning Ukrainians that their personal data was being uploaded to the Internet. “Be afraid and expect the worst,” the message warned. Continue reading

Who is the Network Access Broker ‘Wazawaka?’

January 12, 2022

In a great many ransomware attacks, the criminals who pillage the victim’s network are not the same crooks who gained the initial access to the victim organization. More commonly, the infected PC or stolen VPN credentials the gang used to break in were purchased from a cybercriminal middleman known as an initial access broker. This post examines some of the clues left behind by “Wazawaka,” the hacker handle chosen by a major access broker in the Russian-speaking cybercrime scene.

Wazawaka has been a highly active member of multiple cybercrime forums over the past decade, but his favorite is the Russian-language community Exploit. Wazawaka spent his early days on Exploit and other forums selling distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that could knock websites offline for about USD $80 a day. But in more recent years, Wazawaka has focused on peddling access to organizations and to databases stolen from hacked companies.

“Come, rob, and get dough!,” reads a thread started by Wazawaka on Exploit in March 2020, in which he sold access to a Chinese company with more than $10 billion in annual revenues. “Show them who is boss.”

According to their posts on Exploit, Wazawaka has worked with at least two different ransomware affiliate programs, including LockBit. Wazawaka said LockBit had paid him roughly $500,000 in commissions for the six months leading up to September 2020.

Wazawaka also said he’d teamed up with DarkSide, the ransomware affiliate group responsible for the six-day outage at Colonial Pipeline last year that caused nationwide fuel shortages and price spikes. The U.S. Department of State has since offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any DarkSide affiliates.

Wazawaka seems to have adopted the uniquely communitarian view that when organizations being held for ransom decline to cooperate or pay up, any data stolen from the victim should be published on the Russian cybercrime forums for all to plunder — not privately sold to the highest bidder. In thread after thread on the crime forum XSS, Wazawaka’s alias “Uhodiransomwar” can be seen posting download links to databases from companies that have refused to negotiate after five days.

“The only and the main principle of ransomware is: the information that you steal should never be sold,” Uhodiransomwar wrote in August 2020. “The community needs to receive it absolutely free of charge if the ransom isn’t paid by the side that this information is stolen from.”

Wazawaka hasn’t always been so friendly to other cybercrooks. Over the past ten years, his contact information has been used to register numerous phishing domains intended to siphon credentials from people trying to transact on various dark web marketplaces. In 2018, Wazawaka registered a slew of domains spoofing the real domain for the Hydra dark web market. In 2014, Wazawaka confided to another crime forum member via private message that he made good money stealing accounts from drug dealers on these marketplaces.

“I used to steal their QIWI accounts with up to $500k in them,” Wazawaka recalled. “A dealer would never go to the cops and tell them he was selling stuff online and someone stole his money.” Continue reading

‘Wormable’ Flaw Leads January 2022 Patch Tuesday

January 11, 2022

Microsoft today released updates to plug nearly 120 security holes in Windows and supported software. Six of the vulnerabilities were publicly detailed already, potentially giving attackers a head start in figuring out how to exploit them in unpatched systems. More concerning, Microsoft warns that one of the flaws fixed this month is “wormable,” meaning no human interaction would be required for an attack to spread from one vulnerable Windows box to another.

Nine of the vulnerabilities fixed in this month’s Patch Tuesday received Microsoft’s “critical” rating, meaning malware or miscreants can exploit them to gain remote access to vulnerable Windows systems through no help from the user.

By all accounts, the most severe flaw addressed today is CVE-2022-21907, a critical, remote code execution flaw in the “HTTP Protocol Stack.” Microsoft says the flaw affects Windows 10 and Windows 11, as well as Server 2019 and Server 2022.

“While this is definitely more server-centric, remember that Windows clients can also run http.sys, so all affected versions are affected by this bug,” said Dustin Childs from Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative. “Test and deploy this patch quickly.”

Quickly indeed. In May 2021, Microsoft patched a similarly critical and wormable vulnerability in the HTTP Protocol Stack; less than a week later, computer code made to exploit the flaw was posted online.

Microsoft also fixed three more remote code execution flaws in Exchange Server, a technology that hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide use to manage their email. Exchange flaws are a major target of malicious hackers. Almost a year ago, hundreds of thousands of Exchange servers worldwide were compromised by malware after attackers started mass-exploiting four zero-day flaws in Exchange.

Microsoft says the limiting factor with these three newly found Exchange flaws is that an attacker would need to be tied to the target’s network somehow to exploit them. But Satnam Narang at Tenable notes Microsoft has labeled all three Exchange flaws as “exploitation more likely.”

“One of the flaws, CVE-2022-21846, was disclosed to Microsoft by the National Security Agency,” Narang said. “Despite the rating, Microsoft notes the attack vector is adjacent, meaning exploitation will require more legwork for an attacker, unlike the ProxyLogon and ProxyShell vulnerabilities which were remotely exploitable.” Continue reading

500M Avira Antivirus Users Introduced to Cryptomining

January 8, 2022

Many readers were surprised to learn recently that the popular Norton 360 antivirus suite now ships with a program which lets customers make money mining virtual currency. But Norton 360 isn’t alone in this dubious endeavor: Avira antivirus — which has built a base of 500 million users worldwide largely by making the product free — was recently bought by the same company that owns Norton 360 and is introducing its customers to a service called Avira Crypto.

Avira Crypto

Founded in 2006, Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG is a German multinational software company best known for their Avira Free Security (a.k.a. Avira Free Antivirus). In January 2021, Avira was acquired by Tempe, Ariz.-based NortonLifeLock Inc., the same company that now owns Norton 360.

In 2017, the identity theft protection company LifeLock was acquired by Symantec Corp., which was renamed to NortonLifeLock in 2019. LifeLock is now included in the Norton 360 service; Avira offers users a similar service called Breach Monitor.

Like Norton 360, Avira comes with a cryptominer already installed, but customers have to opt in to using the service that powers it. Avira’s FAQ on its cryptomining service is somewhat sparse. For example, it doesn’t specify how much NortonLifeLock gets out of the deal (NortonLifeLock keeps 15 percent of any cryptocurrency mined by Norton Crypto).

“Avira Crypto allows you to use your computer’s idle time to mine the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH),” the FAQ explains. “Since cryptomining requires a high level of processing power, it is not suitable for users with an average computer. Even with compatible hardware, mining cryptocurrencies on your own can be less rewarding. Your best option is to join a mining pool that shares their computer power to improve their chance of mining cryptocurrency. The rewards are then distributed evenly to all members in the pool.”

NortonLifeLock hasn’t yet responded to requests for comment, so it’s unclear whether Avira uses the same cryptomining code as Norton Crypto. But there are clues that suggest that’s the case. NortonLifeLock announced Avira Crypto in late October 2021, but multiple other antivirus products have flagged Avira’s installer as malicious or unsafe for including a cryptominer as far back as Sept. 9, 2021.

Avira was detected as potentially unsafe for including a cryptominer back in Sept. 2021. Image: Virustotal.com.

The above screenshot was taken on Virustotal.com, a service owned by Google that scans submitted files against dozens of antivirus products. The detection report pictured was found by searching Virustotal for “ANvOptimusEnablementCuda,” a function included in the Norton Crypto mining component “Ncrypt.exe.” Continue reading

Norton 360 Now Comes With a Cryptominer

January 6, 2022

Norton 360, one of the most popular antivirus products on the market today, has installed a cryptocurrency mining program on its customers’ computers. Norton’s parent firm says the cloud-based service that activates the program and allows customers to profit from the scheme — in which the company keeps 15 percent of any currencies mined — is “opt-in,” meaning users have to agree to enable it. But many Norton users complain the mining program is difficult to remove, and reactions from longtime customers have ranged from unease and disbelief to, “Dude, where’s my crypto?”

Norton 360 is owned by Tempe, Ariz.-based NortonLifeLock Inc. In 2017, the identity theft protection company LifeLock was acquired by Symantec Corp., which was renamed to NortonLifeLock in 2019 (LifeLock is now included in the Norton 360 service).

According to the FAQ posted on its site, “Norton Crypto” will mine Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency while the customer’s computer is idle. The FAQ also says Norton Crypto will only run on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements (such as an NVIDIA graphics card with at least 6 GB of memory).

“Norton creates a secure digital Ethereum wallet for each user,” the FAQ reads. “The key to the wallet is encrypted and stored securely in the cloud. Only you have access to the wallet.”

NortonLifeLock began offering the mining service in July 2021, and early news coverage of the program did not immediately receive widespread attention. That changed on Jan. 4, when Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow tweeted that NortonCrypto would run by default for Norton 360 users.

NortonLifeLock says Norton Crypto is an opt-in feature only and is not enabled without user permission.

“If users have turned on Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled by temporarily shutting off ‘tamper protection’ (which allows users to modify the Norton installation) and deleting NCrypt.exe from your computer,” NortonLifeLock said in a written statement. However, many users have reported difficulty removing the mining program.

From reading user posts on the Norton Crypto community forum, it seems some longtime Norton customers were horrified at the prospect of their antivirus product installing coin-mining software, regardless of whether the mining service was turned off by default.

“How on Earth could anyone at Norton think that adding crypto mining within a security product would be a good thing?,” reads a Dec. 28 thread titled “Absolutely furious.”

“Norton should be DETECTING and killing off crypto mining hijacking, not installing their own,” the post reads. “The product people need firing. What’s the next ‘bright idea’? Norton Botnet? ‘ And I was just about to re-install Norton 360 too, but this has literally has caused me to no longer trust Norton and their direction.” Continue reading

Happy 12th Birthday, KrebsOnSecurity.com!

December 29, 2021


KrebsOnSecurity.com celebrates its 12th anniversary today! Maybe “celebrate” is too indelicate a word for a year wracked by the global pandemics of COVID-19 and ransomware. Especially since stories about both have helped to grow the audience here tremendously in 2021. But this site’s birthday also is a welcome opportunity to thank you all for your continued readership and support, which helps keep the content here free to everyone.

More than seven million unique visitors came to KrebsOnSecurity.com in 2021, generating some 12 million+ pageviews and leaving almost 8,000 comments. We also now have nearly 50,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, which is still just a text-based (non-HTML) email that goes out each time a new story is published here (~2-3 times a week).

Back when this site first began 12 years ago, I never imagined it would attract such a level of engagement. Before launching KrebsOnSecurity, I was a tech reporter for washingtonpost.com. For many years, The Post’s website was physically, financially and editorially separate from what the dot-com employees affectionately called “The Dead Tree Edition.” When the two newsrooms finally merged in 2009, my position was eliminated.

Happily, the blog I authored for four years at washingtonpost.com — Security Fix — had attracted a sizable readership, and it seemed clear that the worldwide appetite for in-depth news about computer security and cybercrime would become practically insatiable in the coming years.

Happier still, The Post offered a severance package equal to six months of my salary. Had they not thrown that lifeline, I doubt I’d have had the guts to go it alone. But at the time, my wife basically said I had six months to make this “blog thing” work, or else find a “real job.”

God bless her eternal patience with my adopted occupation, because KrebsOnSecurity has helped me avoid finding a real job for a dozen years now. And hopefully they let me keep doing this, because at this point I’m certainly unqualified to do much else.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to remind Dear Readers that advertisers do help keep the content free here to everyone. For security and privacy reasons, KrebsOnSecurity does not host any third-party content on this site — and this includes the ad creatives, which are simply images or GIFs vetted by Yours Truly and served directly from krebsonsecurity.com.

That’s a long-winded way of asking: If you regularly visit KrebsOnSecurity.com with an ad blocker, please consider adding an exception for this site.

Thanks again, Dear Readers. Please stay safe, healthy and alert in 2022. See you on the other side!

NY Man Pleads Guilty in $20 Million SIM Swap Theft

December 16, 2021

A 24-year-old New York man who bragged about helping to steal more than $20 million worth of cryptocurrency from a technology executive has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Nicholas Truglia was part of a group alleged to have stolen more than $100 million from cryptocurrency investors using fraudulent “SIM swaps,” scams in which identity thieves hijack a target’s mobile phone number and use that to wrest control over the victim’s online identities.

Truglia admitted to a New York federal court that he let a friend use his account at crypto-trading platform Binance in 2018 to launder more than $20 million worth of virtual currency stolen from Michael Terpin, a cryptocurrency investor who co-founded the first angel investor group for bitcoin enthusiasts.

Following the theft, Terpin filed a civil lawsuit against Truglia with the Los Angeles Superior court. In May 2019, the jury awarded Terpin a $75.8 million judgment against Truglia. In January 2020, a New York grand jury criminally indicted Truglia (PDF) for his part in the crypto theft from Terpin.

A SIM card is the tiny, removable chip in a mobile device that allows it to connect to the provider’s network. Customers can legitimately request a SIM swap when their mobile device has been damaged or lost, or when they are switching to a different phone that requires a SIM card of another size.

Nicholas Truglia, holding bottle. Image: twitter.com/erupts

But fraudulent SIM swaps are frequently abused by scam artists who trick mobile providers into tying a target’s service to a new SIM card and mobile phone controlled by the scammers. Unauthorized SIM swaps often are perpetrated by fraudsters who have already stolen or phished a target’s password, as many financial institutions and online services rely on text messages to send users a one-time code for multi-factor authentication.

Compounding the threat, many websites let customers reset their passwords merely by clicking a link sent via SMS to the mobile phone number tied to the account, meaning anyone who controls that phone number can reset the passwords for those accounts.

Reached for comment, Terpin said his assailant got off easy.

“I am outraged that after nearly four years and hundreds of pages of evidence that the best the prosecutors could recommend was a plea bargain for a single, relatively minor count of the unauthorized use of a Binance exchange account, when all the evidence points toward Truglia being one of two masterminds of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to steal crypto from me and others,” Terpin told KrebsOnSecurity.

Terpin said public court records already show Truglia bragging about stealing his funds and using it to finance a lavish lifestyle.

“He at the very least withdrew 100 bitcoin (worth $1.6 million at the time and nearly $5 million today) from my theft into his wallet at a separate, US-based exchange, and then moved or spent it,” Terpin said. “The fact is that the intentional theft of $24 million, whether taken at the point of a gun in a bank or through a SIM card swap, is a major felony. Truglia should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Nicholas Truglia, showing off a diamond-studded Piaget watch while aboard a private jet. Image: twitter.com/erupts.

Continue reading

Microsoft Patch Tuesday, December 2021 Edition

December 14, 2021

Microsoft, Adobe, and Google all issued security updates to their products today. The Microsoft patches include six previously disclosed security flaws, and one that is already being actively exploited. But this month’s Patch Tuesday is overshadowed by the “Log4Shell” 0-day exploit in a popular Java library that web server administrators are now racing to find and patch amid widespread exploitation of the flaw.

Log4Shell is the name picked for a critical flaw disclosed Dec. 9 in the popular logging library for Java called “log4j,” which is included in a huge number of Java applications. Publicly released exploit code allows an attacker to force a server running a vulnerable log4j library to execute commands, such as downloading malicious software or opening a backdoor connection to the server.

According to researchers at Lunasec, many, many services are vulnerable to this exploit.

“Cloud services like Steam, Apple iCloud, and apps like Minecraft have already been found to be vulnerable,” Lunasec wrote. “Anybody using Apache Struts is likely vulnerable. We’ve seen similar vulnerabilities exploited before in breaches like the 2017 Equifax data breach. An extensive list of responses from impacted organizations has been compiled here.”

“If you run a server built on open-source software, there’s a good chance you are impacted by this vulnerability,” said Dustin Childs of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative. “Check with all the vendors in your enterprise to see if they are impacted and what patches are available.”

Part of the difficulty in patching against the Log4Shell attack is identifying all of the vulnerable web applications, said Johannes Ullrich, an incident handler and blogger for the SANS Internet Storm Center. “Log4Shell will continue to haunt us for years to come. Dealing with log4shell will be a marathon,” Ullrich said. “Treat it as such.” SANS has a good walk-through of how simple yet powerful the exploit can be.

John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, said the company has seen Chinese and Iranian state actors leveraging the log4j vulnerability, and that the Iranian actors are particularly aggressive, having taken part in ransomware operations that may be primarily carried out for disruptive purposes rather than financial gain.

“We anticipate other state actors are doing so as well, or preparing to,” Hultquist said. “We believe these actors will work quickly to create footholds in desirable networks for follow-on activity, which may last for some time. In some cases, they will work from a wish list of targets that existed long before this vulnerability was public knowledge. In other cases, desirable targets may be selected after broad targeting.”

Researcher Kevin Beaumont had a more lighthearted take on Log4Shell via Twitter:

“Basically the perfect ending to cybersecurity in 2021 is a 90s style Java vulnerability in an open source module, written by two volunteers with no funding, used by large cybersecurity vendors, undetected until Minecraft chat got pwned, where nobody knows how to respond properly.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has joined with the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA) and partners abroad in publishing an advisory to help organizations mitigate Log4Shell and other Log4j-related vulnerabilities.

Continue reading