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

1/28/2019
04:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

US Law Enforcement Shuts Down Massive Marketplace for Compromised Servers

At its peak, xDedic listed over 70,000 owned servers that buyers could purchase for prices starting as low as $6 each.

US law enforcement authorities in collaboration with their counterparts in Belgium, Ukraine, and the Europol have taken down xDedic, a Russian language website notorious for selling stolen identity data and access to tens of thousands of compromised servers.

In a statement, the Justice Department described the site as facilitating more than $68 million in fraud over the past several years. Its victims have spanned the globe and include organizations across numerous sectors, among them accounting and law firms; pension funds; local, state and federal government entities; hospitals; and emergency services providers.

"The xDedic Marketplace operated across a widely distributed network and utilized bitcoin in order to hide the locations of its underlying servers and the identities of its administrators, buyers, and sellers," the statement read. The site allowed buyers to search for stolen data and compromised servers by geography, price, operating system, and a variety of other criteria.

Orders to seize xDedic's domain were executed last week, effectively shutting down the site. Its Web page has been replaced with a splash screen announcing the FBI seizure pursuant to a civil forfeiture warrant from the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The Justice Department statement Monday described the FBI and criminal enforcement unit of the IRS as leading the US investigation with help from other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. A joint investigative team established in January 2018 led the European side of the investigation. It comprises members of the offices of Federal Prosecutor, the Investigating Judge of Belgium, and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

The xDedic takedown is significant because of the scope of the operation. Security researchers who have been tracking the website for years have previously described it as one of the largest underground marketplaces, especially for hacked servers.

Massive Operation
In a June 2016 report, researchers from Kaspersky Lab estimated that buyers could purchase access to as many as 70,000 hacked servers from 173 countries around the world on xDedic for extremely low prices. The servers were available from a total of 416 unique sellers who were using xDedic as a sales platform.

At the time, prices for access to some servers — like those belonging to government entities in the European Union — started at just $6 per server. For that price, a buyer would get access to all data on the compromised server and the ability to use the server to launch further attacks against the victim organization, Kaspersky Lab had noted.

"Interestingly, the developers of xDedic are not selling anything themselves – instead, they have created a marketplace where a network of affiliates can sell access to compromised servers," the security vendor said in its report. As part of its services, xDedic offered sellers and buyers live technical support, tools for patching hacked servers so the systems would allow multiple remote sessions, and tools for gathering system information.

The final xDedic lesson is that network owners must understand their Web-facing properties, including whether RDP services are enabled, says Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team. They need to understand and maintain more complex but practical authentication schemes for these services, he says. "As we move further into the mesh of IoT and its accompanying default passwords, this lesson must be reinforced," Baumgartner added.

US law enforcement authorities have led or participated in numerous similar takedowns of Dark Web marketplaces over the years. The two most significant were the efforts that resulted in the 2017 shutdown of AlphaBay and Hansa Market. Both sold a massive array of stolen and counterfeit goods that included not just hacking tools but other illegal products, including guns, toxic chemicals, and heroin.

The law enforcement actions have not significantly slowed down cybercrime activity, but they are reshaping the manner in which illicit hacking tools and other products are being sold and purchased online.

Last year, Digital Shadows noted an increase in the use by cybercriminals of smaller, decentralized markets and messaging services like Telegram to conduct transactions following the AlphaBay and Hansa Market takedown. With fear and suspicion rampant, cybercriminals are increasingly eschewing larger marketplaces for smaller invite-only groups and services, Digital Shadows noted in its report.

Related Content:

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/1/2020
Stay-at-Home Orders Coincide With Massive DNS Surge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/27/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10136
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
Multiple products that implement the IP Encapsulation within IP standard (RFC 2003, STD 1) decapsulate and route IP-in-IP traffic without any validation, which could allow an unauthenticated remote attacker to route arbitrary traffic via an exposed network interface and lead to spoofing, access cont...
CVE-2020-13757
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-01
Python-RSA 4.0 ignores leading '\0' bytes during decryption of ciphertext. This could conceivably have a security-relevant impact, e.g., by helping an attacker to infer that an application uses Python-RSA, or if the length of accepted ciphertext affects application behavior (such as by causing exces...
CVE-2020-13758
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-01
modules/security/classes/general.post_filter.php/post_filter.php in the Web Application Firewall in Bitrix24 through 20.0.950 allows XSS by placing %00 before the payload.
CVE-2020-9291
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-01
An Insecure Temporary File vulnerability in FortiClient for Windows 6.2.1 and below may allow a local user to gain elevated privileges via exhausting the pool of temporary file names combined with a symbolic link attack.
CVE-2019-15709
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-01
An improper input validation in FortiAP-S/W2 6.2.0 to 6.2.2, 6.0.5 and below, FortiAP-U 6.0.1 and below CLI admin console may allow unauthorized administrators to overwrite system files via specially crafted tcpdump commands in the CLI.