Cloud
10/8/2014
04:25 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

How One Criminal Hacker Group Stole Credentials for 800,000 Bank Accounts

Proofpoint report shows how one Russian-speaking criminal organization hides from security companies.

A closer peek at a Russian-speaking crime group that has lifted credentials for as many as 800,000 online banking accounts, shows more evidence of the growing sophistication of the cybercrime infrastructure. A new report from Proofpoint describes how one organization employed third-party services, used technology and services to dynamically adjust to business challenges, and even created alternate revenue streams for itself.

The attackers began by buying lists of stolen administrator logins for WordPress sites from an underground marketplace. They then uploaded malware to those sites.

The attackers wouldn't serve up malware to just anyone who visited those compromised sites. First, they'd use a traffic distribution system filter (TDS) to check whether or not the incoming browser was a good target -- vulnerable, located in an attractive location, and not run by a security company scanning for nefarious activities. Further, they employed a third-party obfuscation service, Scan4U, to help avoid the notice of security companies.

Once a visiting browser was deemed satisfactory, the attackers would exploit the browser or one of the browser's plug-ins, and infect the client machine with a malware dropper via drive-by download. More clients were infected by distributing malicious content through the sites' email newsletters.

Over 500,000 client machines are infected, according to Proofpoint, but they estimate that as many as 2 million may have been compromised over the attack's full lifecycle.

Once the malware dropper was downloaded onto the client machine, the attackers would push down the actual payload -- usually the Qbot banking Trojan, but attackers could use the dropper to push out multiple pieces of malware to each host. The Scan4U service would alert the attackers whenever an anti-virus vendor detected their malware so they could re-obfuscate it. As the report states:

...the attack chain does not simply deliver a single piece of malware onto an infected system and stop at that. Instead, it is designed to establish a foothold on the system so that any number of different pieces of malicious software can be downloaded in order to carry out criminal activities ranging from banking account theft to secret communications and transfers, to distributed denial of service (DDoS), to ransomware and any other activity that represents an opportunity to monetize that infected system.

Qbot sniffed online banking "conversations" for credentials -- as many as 800,000, according to Proofpoint.

Proofpoint does not provide an estimate of how much money the attackers have made with those credentials, but they do state:

With 500,000 infected clients stealing online banking account credentials for as many as 800,000 online banking accounts, this cybercrime group has the potential for tremendous profits. Previous takedowns of rings of money transfer “mules” employed by organized crime groups have shown that $25,000 per account is a realistic figure. If even a fraction of a percent of the 800,000 accounts that they have sniffed yields credentials that enable them to conduct illegal electronic funds transfers (EFT) or other transfers this cybercrime group has the potential to net millions of dollars from their operation.

The crime group also created an alternative revenue stream for itself, by selling a tunneling service based on SOCKS5, called SocksFabric. The service lets customers build their own private cloud and provides them with easy infection points for their own attacks. The service costs $10 per day -- $100 for 30 days -- and includes a help manual.

The report continues:

The operations of this Russian cybercrime group exemplify both the sophisticated attack chain and the key challenges of modern threats. While attackers rely on a variety of means to connect with potential victims, compromised web sites are a critical component in the attack chain. Attackers have the financial and technical means to infect an almost unlimited number of legitimate web sites, above and beyond the more easily identifiable malicious or suspicious sites that traditional defenses are designed to detect and block.

See here for the full report.

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Atwas911
50%
50%
Atwas911,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2014 | 11:33:41 AM
Re: What about security devices?
Okay.. Now write a post about the "Criminal Bankers" who have, and continue to steal trillions...
securityaffairs
0%
100%
securityaffairs,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 3:29:50 PM
Re: What about security devices?
To mitigate cyber threats like the this it is necessary a multi layered approach:

 
  • Customers must be aware of cyber threats and must be informed about best practices to adopt.
  • Banks must improve security of their systems and adopt multi factor authentication mechanisms.
  • Law enforcement needs to operate in a joint effort to persecute criminal syndicate that are very aggressive and well organized.

 

 
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 12:00:06 PM
What about security devices?
My bank employees a number generator security device as well as password and login system. Does this make it foolproof against hackers to some extent, since they'd need the device twinned specifically with my account to get in?
Microsoft Word Vuln Went Unnoticed for 17 Years: Report
Kelly Sheridan, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/14/2017
Companies Blindly Believe They've Locked Down Users' Mobile Use
Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/14/2017
121 Pieces of Malware Flagged on NSA Employee's Home Computer
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  11/16/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Managing Cyber-Risk
An online breach could have a huge impact on your organization. Here are some strategies for measuring and managing that risk.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.