Attacks/Breaches
10/28/2013
11:51 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Dutch Banking Malware Gang Busted: Bitcoin's Role

Dutch police arrest four men on charges of using TorRAT banking malware to steal an estimated $1.4 million from consumers. They allegedly laundered the funds using the cryptographic currency known as Bitcoins.

Dutch cybercrime police last week busted four men on charges that they used the banking malware known as TorRAT to steal an estimated $1.4 million from consumers, which they allegedly laundered using the cryptographic currency known as Bitcoins.

TorRAT is a remote-access Trojan (RAT), designed to steal online banking information, which receives command-and-control (C&C) instructions via the anonymizing Tor network. By using Tor, the botnet's operators can disguise the commands they send to infected PCs and hide the flow of stolen data being transmitted from infected PCs to attacker-controlled servers.

The Windows malware was distributed in part via hacked Twitter feeds, but largely via phishing attacks written in Dutch that targeted online banking users in the Netherlands. "Users fell victim to this threat by clicking fake invoices in specially crafted spammed messages," said Trend Micro senior threat researcher Feike Hacquebord in a blog post. "These invoices did not have the usual grammar and spelling errors like the ones in typical spam runs sent by fellow con men who are not native speakers."

Police said the TorRAT gang coordinated their operations using Tor Mail -- which was designed to provide users with anonymous, private communications -- and ultimately stole funds from at least 150 Dutch bank accounts.

[ Why should consumers be forced to clean up when their personal data is breached? Read Experian Breach Fallout: ID Theft Nightmares Continue. ]

Stealing victims' money was the easy part. Actually converting it to cash was much more difficult, and a single mistake might leave clues that authorities could trace back to the gang members' real identity. "It is relatively straightforward to manipulate bank transactions on an infected computer. But you need mules for laundering stolen money," said Hacquebord. "The Dutch gang allegedly laundered money through Bitcoin transactions and even set up their own Bitcoin exchange service -- FBTC Exchange -- that went dark after the arrests."

The Dutch investigation also resulted in police seizing from the TorRAT gang 56 Bitcoins, which authorities exchanged for over 7,700 euros ($10,000).

How did Dutch computer crime police trace the men? While authorities haven't revealed what tipped them off, the arrests may have resulted directly from an FBI sting operation earlier this year that resulted in the arrest in Dublin of 28-year-old Eric Eoin Marques on child pornography distribution charges. Marques was also accused of being the operator of Freedom Hosting, which hosted multiple anonymous Tor software services, including Tor Mail, although the hosting service wasn't affiliated with the Tor Project.

The FBI apparently hacked into the Freedom Hosting site and made it serve malware that targeted a bug -- since patched -- in the Firefox browser that underpins the Tor Browser Bundle (TBB), which is the easiest way to access the anonymizing Tor network. The malware planted a tracking ID onto a TBB-using PC, which allowed the FBI to trace the IP address for the computer, helping it identify the user. Accordingly, the FBI may have shared the real IP addresses of the alleged Tor Mail-using TorRAT gang members with Dutch police.

Last week's takedown of the alleged TorRAT gang also followed the arrest earlier this month of Ross William Ulbricht, 29. The FBI accused Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, of running the notorious online narcotics marketplace known as the Silk Road. Reachable only via the Tor network, the site generated more than $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions during the more than two years in which it operated, authorities estimated. But even the combination of using Bitcoins as currency and the Tor network to hide participants' identities didn't prevent the FBI from tracing transactions back to the online marketplace's alleged owner.

Last week, the FBI announced that it had seized a second stash of Bitcoins belonging to Ulbricht, which brought the total number of seized Bitcoins to 173,991. At current Bitcoin exchange rates, they would be worth more than $34.1 million.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, September 16, 2014
Malicious software is morphing to be more targeted, stealthy, and destructive. Are you prepared to stop it?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-1032
Published: 2014-09-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Euroling SiteSeeker module 3.x before 3.4.5 for EPiServer allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors. NOTE: the provenance of this information is unknown; the details are obtained solely from third party inf...

CVE-2012-1417
Published: 2014-09-17
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in Local Phone book and Blacklist form in Yealink VOIP Phones allow remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the user field to cgi-bin/ConfigManApp.com.

CVE-2012-1506
Published: 2014-09-17
SQL injection vulnerability in the updateStatus function in lib/models/benefits/Hsp.php in OrangeHRM before 2.7 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the hspSummaryId parameter to plugins/ajaxCalls/haltResumeHsp.php. NOTE: some of these details are obtained from th...

CVE-2012-1507
Published: 2014-09-17
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in OrangeHRM before 2.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) newHspStatus parameter to plugins/ajaxCalls/haltResumeHsp.php, (2) sortOrder1 parameter to templates/hrfunct/emppop.php, or (3) uri parameter to index...

CVE-2012-2583
Published: 2014-09-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Mini Mail Dashboard Widget plugin 1.42 for WordPress allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the body of an email.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
CISO Insider: An Interview with James Christiansen, Vice President, Information Risk Management, Office of the CISO, Accuvant