For the past seven years, a malware-based proxy service known as “Faceless” has sold anonymity to countless cybercriminals. For less than a dollar per day, Faceless customers can route their malicious traffic through tens of thousands of compromised systems advertised on the service. In this post we’ll examine clues left behind over the past decade by the proprietor of Faceless, including some that may help put a face to the name.
Denis Emelyantsev, a 36-year-old Russian man accused of running a massive botnet called RSOCKS that stitched malware into millions of devices worldwide, pleaded guilty to two counts of computer crime violations in a California courtroom this week. The plea comes just months after Emelyantsev was extradited from Bulgaria, where he told investigators, “America is looking for me because I have enormous information and they need it.”
911[.]re, a proxy service that since 2015 has sold access to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers daily, announced this week that it is shutting down in the wake of a data breach that destroyed key components of its business operations. The abrupt closure comes ten days after KrebsOnSecurity published an in-depth look at 911 and its connections to shady pay-per-install affiliate programs that secretly bundled 911’s proxy software with other titles, including “free” utilities and pirated software.
Microleaves, a ten-year-old proxy service that lets customers route their web traffic through millions of Microsoft Windows computers, exposed their entire user database and the location of tens of millions of PCs running the proxy software. Microleaves claims its proxy software is installed with user consent. But research suggests Microleaves has a lengthy history of being supplied with new proxies by affiliates incentivized to install the software any which way they can — such as by secretly bundling it with other software.
For the past seven years, an online service known as 911 has sold access to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers daily, allowing customers to route malicious traffic through PCs in virtually any country or city around the globe — but predominantly in the United States. The proxy service says its network is made up entirely of users who voluntarily install the proxy software. But new research shows 911 has a long history of purchasing installations via shady “pay-per-install” affiliate marketing schemes, some of which 911 operated on its own.
On December 7, 2021, Google announced it had sued two Russian men allegedly responsible for operating the Glupteba botnet, a global malware menace that has infected millions of computers over the past decade. That same day, AWM Proxy — a 14-year-old anonymity service that rents hacked PCs to cybercriminals — suddenly went offline. Security experts had long seen a link between Glupteba and AWM Proxy, but new research shows AWM Proxy’s founder is one of the men being sued by Google.
Authorities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. last week said they dismantled the “RSOCKS” botnet, a collection of millions of hacked devices that were sold as “proxies” to cybercriminals looking for ways to route their malicious traffic through someone else’s computer. While the coordinated action did not name the Russian hackers allegedly behind RSOCKS, KrebsOnSecurity has identified its owner as a Russian man living abroad who also runs the world’s top Russian spamming forum.
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.
Cybercrooks increasingly are anonymizing their malicious traffic by routing it through residential broadband and wireless data connections. Most often, those connections are hacked computers, mobile phones, or home routers. But this is the story of a sprawling “bulletproof residential VPN” service that appears to have been built by acquiring chunks of Internet addresses from some the largest ISPs and mobile data providers in the United States and abroad.