In October 2016, media outlets reported that data collected by some of the world’s most renowned cybersecurity experts had identified frequent and unexplained communications between an email server used by the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest financial institutions. Those publications set off speculation about a possible secret back-channel of communications, as well as a series of lawsuits and investigations that culminated last week with the indictment of the same former federal cybercrime prosecutor who brought the data to the attention of the FBI five years ago.
On Thursday evening, KrebsOnSecurity was the subject of a rather massive (and mercifully brief) distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The assault came from “Meris,” the same new “Internet of Things” (IoT) botnet behind record-shattering attacks against Russian search giant Yandex this week and internet infrastructure firm Cloudflare earlier this summer.
In May 2015, KrebsOnSecurity briefly profiled “The Manipulaters,” the name chosen by a prolific cybercrime group based in Pakistan that was very publicly selling spam tools and a range of services for crafting, hosting and deploying malicious email. Six years later, a review of the social media postings from this group shows they are prospering, while rather poorly hiding their activities behind a software development firm in Lahore that has secretly enabled an entire generation of spammers and scammers.
Some of the most successful and lucrative online scams employ a “low-and-slow” approach — avoiding detection or interference from researchers and law enforcement agencies by stealing small bits of cash from many people over an extended period. Here’s the story of a cybercrime group that compromises up to 100,000 email inboxes per day, and apparently does little else with this access except siphon gift card and customer loyalty program data that can be resold online.
Over the past 15 years, a cybercrime anonymity service known as VIP72 has enabled countless fraudsters to mask their true location online by routing their traffic through millions of malware-infected systems. But roughly two week ago, VIP72’s online storefront — which sold access to more than 30,000 compromised PCs — simply vanished.
I was preparing to knock off work on a recent Friday evening when a curious and annoying email came in via the contact form on this site:
“Hello I go by the username Nuclear27 on your site Briansclub[.]com,” wrote “Mitch,” confusing me with the proprietor of perhaps the underground’s largest bazaar for stolen credit and identity data. “I made a deposit to my wallet on the site but nothing has shown up yet and I would like to know why.”
Several things stood out in Mitch’s message. For starters, that is not the actual domain for BriansClub. And it’s not hard to see why Mitch got snookered: The real BriansClub site is currently not at the top of search results when one queries that shop name at Google.
Every time there is another data breach, we are asked to change our password at the breached entity. But the reality is that in most cases by the time the victim organization discloses an incident publicly the information has already been harvested many times over by profit-seeking cybercriminals. Here’s a closer look at what typically transpires in the weeks or months before an organization notifies its users about a breached database.
Our continued reliance on passwords for authentication has contributed to one toxic data spill or hack after another. One might even say passwords are the fossil fuels powering most IT modernization: They’re ubiquitous because they are cheap and easy to use, but that means they also come with significant trade-offs — such as polluting the Internet with weaponized data when they’re leaked or stolen en masse.
Last week cybercriminals deployed ransomware to 1,500 organizations that provide IT security and technical support to many other companies. The attackers exploited a vulnerability in software from Kaseya, a Miami-based company whose products help system administrators manage large networks remotely. Now it appears Kaseya’s customer service portal was left vulnerable until last week to a data-leaking security flaw that was first identified in the same software six years ago.
Financial services giant Intuit this week informed 1.4 million small businesses using its QuickBooks Online Payroll and Intuit Online Payroll products that their payroll information will be shared with big-three consumer credit bureau Equifax starting later this year unless customers opt out by the end of this month.
Intuit says the change is tied to an “exciting” and “free” new service that will let millions of small business employees get easy access to employment and income verification services when they wish to apply for a loan or line of credit.
Imagine waking up each morning knowing the identities of thousands of people who are about to be mugged for thousands of dollars each. You know exactly when and where each of those muggings will take place, and you’ve shared this information in advance with the authorities each day for a year with no outward indication that they are doing anything about it. How frustrated would you be?
Such is the curse of the fraud fighter known online by the handles “Brianna Ware” and “BWare” for short, a longtime member of a global group of volunteers who’ve infiltrated a cybercrime gang that disseminates fraudulent checks tied to a dizzying number of online scams.