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

4/30/2019
06:20 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Financial Data for Multiple Companies Dumped Online in Failed Extortion Bid

Potential victims reportedly include Oracle, Volkswagen, Airbus and Porsche.

Potentially sensitive financial data belonging to an unknown number of customers of Citycomp, a German provider of multi-vendor maintenance and infrastructure services to many large organizations, has been leaked publicly following the company's refusal to accede to a cyber-extortion attempt.

Motherboard earlier on Tuesday said it had learned of attackers breaking into Citycomp's network, stealing customer data, and threatening to release the data publicly if certain demands were not met.

Motherboard said it had seen a website the attackers had purportedly set up to publicly release the stolen data. Information on the site suggested the attacker had obtained data belonging to several Citycomp clients including large companies such as Airbus, Volkswagen, Oracle, Toshiba and Porcshe. The attackers claimed they were in possession of 312,570 files in just over 51,000 folders, representing some 516 GBs of data in total, Motherboard reports.

In an emailed statement to Dark Reading, Michael Bartsch, crisis manager for Citycomp said the attackers have since published the stolen data. "Since Citycomp does not comply with blackmail the publication of customer data could not be prevented," the statement said. "The stolen data has now been published by the perpetrators and Citycomp's customers were informed about it," Bartsch said.

Citycomp's statement did not elaborate on the kind of information that the attackers had published or to which of its customers the data belonged. Motherboard had previously noted that its inspection of the attacker website suggested that a lot of the files contained financial and private data belonging to Citycomp customers.

According to Bartsch, Citycomp was the victim of a targeted attack that appears to have taken place in early April 2019. A still unknown perpetrator stole customer data and threatened to publish the data should Citycomp not comply with the attacker's demands. The statement does not make any mention of what exactly the attackers wanted.

"Citycomp with the help and support of external experts and the State Criminal Police Office of Baden-Württemberg successfully fended off the attack and implemented supplementary security measures of all systems," the statement said. The company has also implemented additional measures to prevent such attacks in future, the statement said without specifying the measures.

Online Extortion Economy

The attack on Citycomp is an example of what some say is a continuing trend by attackers to extort exterprises by stealing sensitive customer and proprietary business data then threatening to dump it publicly. Companies face substantial reputational and financial risk from such attacks and the additional danger of running afoul of regulations like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

In 2017, Netflix had to contend with attackers releasing 10 unaired episodes of its series "Orange is the New Black" after the company refused to pay a ransom to the attackers who stole the data from a post-production company.

"Criminals are always looking for ways to make more money," says Richard Gold, director of security engineering at Digital Shadows, which recently published a report on the growth in online extortion scams. "These extortion scams targeting organizations, rather than individuals, are an opportunity for criminals to get a bigger payout," he says.

In some cases, attackers are turning to a crowd-sourced model to make money off their stolen data. "A recent example was a threat actor known as 'The Dark Overlord' who stole files related to the 9/11 attacks and claimed that they would release the files if they collected enough money from individuals online," Gold notes. Another example is the ShadowBrokers threat group, which in 2017 said would publicly release a large tranche of secret NSA cyberweapons if it managed to raise a certain amount of money online.

Digital Shadows' study found that extortion scams are being fueled by the easy availability of ready-made extortion material on criminal forums. According to the company, the materials, which include blackmail guides and manuals, make it easy even for novice cybercriminals to profit from online extortion.

In many cases, attackers are actively trying to recruit new talent to the cybercrime industry, and offering big payouts. In one instance Digital Shadows said it came across a threat actor willing to pay the equivalent of $768,000 per year to people with network management, programming, and penetration testing skills.

Tim Bandos, vice president of cybersecurity at Digital Guardian says the Citycomp compromise also underscores the tremendous amount of trust that companies place in third-party vendors to host and store their sensitive or confidential information.

"While it’s too early to determine the entrance vector used by the Citycomp attackers, in most cases, there is some lack of fundamental controls that could’ve prevented this type of incident from occurring," he says. Hosting companies are attractive targets for cyber extortionists because of the potential access they provide to multiple organizations.

"However, their success depends on whether or not the breached companies acquiesce to their demands."

Related Content:

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2019 | 10:48:46 PM
Alternative to the Ransom
Unfortunately, this is commonly the response when an extortion attempt goes bad. The crux of the matter is, even if you do pay the ransom you are operating under the assumption that a nefarious entity is going to act honorablly. Essentially, damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.