Businesses spend billions of dollars annually on software and hardware to block external cyberattacks, but a shocking number of these same organizations shoot themselves in the foot by poking gaping holes in their digital defenses and then advertising those vulnerabilities to attackers. Today’s post examines an underground service that rents access to hacked PCs at organizations that make this all-too-common mistake.
Makost[dot]net is a service advertised on cybercrime forums which sells access to “RDPs”, mainly Microsoft Windows systems that have been configured (poorly) to accept “Remote Desktop Protocol” connections from the Internet. Windows ships with its own RDP interface built-in; to connect to another Windows desktop or server remotely, simply fire up the Remote Desktop Connection utility in Windows, type in the Internet address of the remote system, and enter the correct username and password for a valid user account on that remote system. Once the connection is made, you’ll see the remote computer’s desktop as if you were sitting right in front of it, and have access to all its programs and files.
Makost currently is selling access to more than 6,000 compromised RDP installations worldwide. As we can see from the screen shot above, hacked systems are priced according to a combination of qualities of the server:
- city, state, country of host;
- administrative or regular user rights;
- operating system version;
- number and speed of computer processors;
- amount of system memory;
- network download and upload speeds;
- NAT or direct
KrebsOnSecurity was given a glimpse inside the account of a very active user of this service, an individual who has paid more than $2,000 over the past six months to purchase some 425 hacked RDPs. I took the Internet addresses in this customer’s purchase history and ran WHOIS database lookups on them all in a bid to learn more about the victim organizations. As expected, roughly three-quarters of those addresses told me nothing about the victims; the addresses were assigned to residential or commercial Internet service providers.
But the WHOIS records turned up the names of businesses for approximately 25 percent of the addresses I looked up. The largest group of organizations on this list were in the manufacturing (21 victims) and retail services (20) industries. As I sought to categorize the long tail of other victim organizations, I was reminded of the Twelve Days of Christmas carol.
twelve healthcare providers;
ten education providers;
eight government agencies;
seven technology firms;
six insurance companies;
five law firms;
four financial institutions;
two real estate firms;
and a forestry company (in a pear tree?)