Threat Intelligence

7/11/2018
11:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Major International Airport System Access Sold for $10 on Dark Web

Researchers from the McAfee Advanced Threat Research team began with an open search on Russian RDP shop UAS to make their discovery.

Dark Web marketplaces are troves of illicit products and data: stolen credentials, credit card numbers, and, as researchers recently discovered, remote desktop protocol (RDP) access to the security and building automation systems of a major international airport – for the cheap price of $10.

Researchers from the McAfee Advanced Threat Research team used an open search on Ultimate Anonymity Service (UAS), a Russian RDP shop, to search for open RDP ports at that specific organization. They narrowed their search from 65,536 possible IPs to three; by obtaining a complete IP address, they could look up the WHOIS data and find all addresses belonging to a major airport, the name of which is being withheld.

RDP is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft to let someone access another machine via graphical interface. It's intended for use by system admins but can be dangerous when attackers use it as an entry point. The recent SamSam ransomware campaign against American businesses is one recent example in which attackers spent $10 for access to a machine and demanded $40,000 in ransom. The actors behind SamSam continue to advance and spread the attack.

RDP shops serve as the foundation for major cyberattacks, reports McAfee, whose researchers scanned several RDP shops selling anywhere between 15 to more than 40,000 connections, the latter of which they discovered at UAS, the largest shop in their research.

RDP access provides a route to target systems without phishing, malware, or an exploit kit. Top use cases for RDP access include spam campaigns, cryptomining, ransomware, planting false flags to disguise illegal activity as coming from a victim's machine, and pilfering system data for identity theft, credit card fraud, account takeover, extortion, and other malicious use cases.

"It's a useful protocol," says McAfee chief scientist Raj Samani, pointing to the benefits of RDP. "But unless it's locked down, there are concerns whereby anybody with an IP address and login can get access to this particular environment."

RDP shops sell entry to systems that are accessible via port 3389 – the RDP port – due to an issue like misconfiguration or missing two-factor authentication, Samani explains. Systems are advertised with their IP address, country, state, ZIP code, bandwidth, and date of addition. Price varies anywhere between $3 and $20 depending on bandwidth; the type of business is not a factor. Attackers simply have so much access they don't have time to figure out where it all leads.

"They're not going through and looking at the impacted organization," Samani continues. "They've got so much of this [data] that it's economies of scale."

Further open-source searches revealed user accounts including an administrator account and two accounts associated with two companies specializing in airport security (building automation and video surveillance and analytics). Researchers also found a domain likely associated with the airport's automated transit system.

"It's troublesome that a system with such significant public impact might be openly accessible from the Internet," writes John Fokker, head of cyber investigations for McAfee Advanced Threat Research, in a blog post on their findings.

Researchers also found RDP access being sold to multiple government systems, including those linked to the United States, and dozens of connections to healthcare institutions, such as nursing homes and medical equipment suppliers.

"This is not finding a piece of hay in a haystack," Samani says. "This is a business, a huge business that is selling access to organizations and systems all across the world."

To protect their organizations from this level of vulnerability, security managers are advised to take a few precautions: Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication to make brute-force RDP attacks harder to complete; don't allow RDP connections over the open Internet; block IPs after too many failed login attempts; and regularly check for unusual entry attempts.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
No SOPA
50%
50%
No SOPA,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2018 | 1:33:15 PM
Re: Changing Port 3389
Yep.  This is why we always change the default listening port.  It's been a while, but I believe some clients are locked into support for port 3389 which is why (outside of just being naive) some folks do NOT change the default.  Taking a quick look, it appears the Mac client once didn't support pointing elsewhere, but I can't imagine that would STILL be hard-coded after all these years...
REISEN1955
50%
50%
REISEN1955,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2018 | 12:31:26 PM
Changing Port 3389
Super easy IF you know precisely where to change it!!!!!    It should NEVER be open and IP traffic always should be redirected to another port.  
New Bluetooth Hack Affects Millions of Vehicles
Dark Reading Staff 11/16/2018
Understanding Evil Twin AP Attacks and How to Prevent Them
Ryan Orsi, Director of Product Management for Wi-Fi at WatchGuard Technologies,  11/14/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19406
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-21
kvm_pv_send_ipi in arch/x86/kvm/lapic.c in the Linux kernel through 4.19.2 allows local users to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and BUG) via crafted system calls that reach a situation where the apic map is uninitialized.
CVE-2018-19407
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-21
The vcpu_scan_ioapic function in arch/x86/kvm/x86.c in the Linux kernel through 4.19.2 allows local users to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and BUG) via crafted system calls that reach a situation where ioapic is uninitialized.
CVE-2018-19404
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-21
In YXcms 1.4.7, protected/apps/appmanage/controller/indexController.php allow remote authenticated Administrators to execute any PHP code by creating a ZIP archive containing a config.php file, hosting the .zip file at an external URL, and visiting index.php?r=appmanage/index/onlineinstall&url= ...
CVE-2018-19387
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-20
format_cb_pane_tabs in format.c in tmux 2.7 through 2.8 might allow attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL Pointer Dereference and application crash) by arranging for a malloc failure.
CVE-2018-19388
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-20
FoxitReader.exe in Foxit Reader 9.3.0.10826 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (out-of-bounds read, access violation, and application crash) via TIFF data because of a ConvertToPDF_x86!ReleaseFXURLToHtml issue.