Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

2 Million Stolen Passwords Recovered

The stash includes purloined Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo access credentials. Researchers promise to help people who were affected.

Security researchers have recovered a hacker stash of approximately 2 million access credentials for multiple social media networks, webmail accounts, and other online services.

That disclosure came this week from Trustwave's SpiderLabs, which said it found the information after gaining access to the control panel of a single -- albeit rather large -- instance of a Pony botnet, built using version 1.9 of the botnet software. "With the source code of Pony leaked and in the wild, we continue to see new instances and forks of Pony 1.9," wrote SpiderLab researchers Daniel Chechik and Anat (Fox) Davidi in a blog post.

After gaining access to the Pony botnet's control panel, the researchers found that the botnet's controller -- a.k.a. herder -- had amassed approximately 3,000 remote desktop access credentials, 320,000 email account access credentials, and 41,000 FTP account credentials.

But the stolen credential mother lode was the botnet herder's collection of almost 1.6 million stolen website login credentials, which comprised 326,129 Facebook passwords (or 59% of all recovered stolen passwords), followed by 70,532 passwords for Google (13%), 59,549 for Yahoo (11%), 21,708 for Twitter (4%), and 8,490 LinkedIn (2%).

Also on the list were two Russian-language social networking sites, 9,321 passwords for odnoklassniki.ru (2%) and 6,867 for vk.com (1%), which suggested that many infected PCs were used by Russian language speakers. The bot herder is likely also a Russian speaker, since the Pony control panel's language preference was set to Russian.

[TechAmerica says current laws don't protect us from unreasonable search and seizure. See why it says Electronic Privacy Laws Need An Overhaul.]

The SpiderLabs researchers found that 7,978 of the recovered passwords -- or 1.4% of the haul -- were for payroll service ADP, thus demonstrating attackers' ongoing interest in such services. "Facebook accounts are a nice catch for cyber criminals, but payroll services accounts could actually have direct financial repercussions," they said.

Based on control panel information, researchers determined that the active zombie PCs -- or botnet nodes -- were predominantly located in the Netherlands (97% of machines). But compromised machines appeared to be located in more than 100 countries, including about 860 machines in the United States (0.08%) and 285 in Iran (0.03%). Still, the geolocation of the infected PCs would suggest that the botnet was engaged in a targeted attack against people in the Netherlands.

"Taking a closer look at the IP log files, however, revealed that most of the entries from [the Netherlands] IP range are in fact a single IP address that seems to have functioned as a gateway or reverse proxy between the infected machines and the command-and-control server, which resides in the Netherlands as well," the researchers said.

Using a gateway or reverse-proxy server, however, turns out to be a way for attackers to make their malicious infrastructure more resilient to would-be takedown attempts. "This technique of using a reverse proxy is commonly used by attackers in order to prevent the command-and-control server from being discovered and shut down -- outgoing traffic from an infected machine only shows a connection to the proxy server, which is easily replaceable in case it is taken down," according to the researchers.

(Source: Image courtesy of Flickr user david.nikonvscanon)
(Source: Image courtesy of Flickr user david.nikonvscanon)

SpiderLab's detailing of the recovered Pony botnet password horde has led to calls for the information to be made available. "How about providing a portal to search against the database to see if I -- or people in my company -- are impacted?" read one online comment. "Sharing it with services like shouldIchangemypassword.com? Emailing the victims?"

In response to those requests, the researchers promised they would "responsibly share some of this information with the community," once they figured out how. SpiderLab researcher Chechik tweeted: "We are [intending] to create a page, so users can check whether their account was compromised."

Knowing your enemy is the first step in guarding against him or her. In this Dark Reading report, Integrating Vulnerability Management Into The Application Development Process, we examine the world of cybercriminals -- including their motives, resources and processes -- and recommend what enterprises should do to keep their data and computing systems safe in the face of an ever-growing and ever-more-sophisticated threat. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
LetsTalkPaymnts
50%
50%
LetsTalkPaymnts,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2013 | 3:11:48 AM
Fraud is growing
Even in other sectors like Payments fraud is creating issues http://letstalkpayments.com/fraudsters-make-hay-sun-shines-payment-system-attacks/
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 9:44:30 AM
Re: Passwords are meaningless without privacy!
Facebook reportedly alerted those users whose account information was stolen (and it probably wouldn't have been that difficult for a hacker gain access anyway: I read that most of the passwords were along the lines of "password" or "123456").
Mathew
50%
50%
Mathew,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 8:23:14 AM
Re: website logins
Definitely, and to be fair, the company suggested it was working on a range of responses. I'd expect that if it hasn't done so already, it will feed the details to larger online service providers. But for stolen email and FTP credentials, that might not be feasible, if their numbers are too great?
WKash
50%
50%
WKash,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2013 | 11:05:31 PM
Passwords
Another reason why it's time we move beyond passwords to protect our privacy.

 
chrisp114
50%
50%
chrisp114,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2013 | 10:35:46 PM
Passwords are meaningless without privacy!
So what if your facebook account is hacked. Don't you know that facebook is already scanning your information and making it available to other businesses and government? Everyone should consider using privacy-based services such as Ravetree, DuckDuckGo, and HushMail.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2013 | 7:22:36 PM
website logins
We are [intending] to create a page, so users can check whether their account was compromised

Instead of creating a page with almost 1.6 million stolen website logins, isn't it easier to contact the companies involved (Google, FB, Yahoo, etc) so these companies can contact each affected person?

Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2013 | 5:48:16 PM
Recovered the right term?
These passwords were detected - "recovery" implies getting the horse back in the barn.
Commentary
What the FedEx Logo Taught Me About Cybersecurity
Matt Shea, Head of Federal @ MixMode,  6/4/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
A View From Inside a Deception
Sara Peters, Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/2/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Post a Comment
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-21439
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
DoS attack can be performed when an email contains specially designed URL in the body. It can lead to the high CPU usage and cause low quality of service, or in extreme case bring the system to a halt. This issue affects: OTRS AG ((OTRS)) Community Edition 6.0.x version 6.0.1 and later versions. OTR...
CVE-2021-23394
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-13
The package studio-42/elfinder before 2.1.58 are vulnerable to Remote Code Execution (RCE) via execution of PHP code in a .phar file. NOTE: This only applies if the server parses .phar files as PHP.
CVE-2021-34682
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
Receita Federal IRPF 2021 1.7 allows a man-in-the-middle attack against the update feature.
CVE-2021-31811
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an OutOfMemory-Exception while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.
CVE-2021-31812
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an infinite loop while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.