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2/27/2008
05:42 AM
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Stolen FTP Credentials Offered for Sale: Major Firms at Risk

Nearly 9,000 stolen FTP server admin credentials offered with an automated crimeware kit, Finjan says

Cybercriminals are selling a new crimeware package that can automatically infect nearly 9,000 FTP servers at some major global companies, researchers said today.

Researchers at Finjan say they recently stumbled upon a Website selling and trading these stolen FTP server administrator credentials in a software-as-a-service model.

“They are providing an application where you can trade and validate [these credentials], and even get their Google page ranking,” says Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO at Finjan. “You don’t need to hack or develop your own Trojan, and there’s no need to compromise a server by yourself” to gain access to the FTP servers and ultimately, the victim organization’s Website, he says.

Finjan won’t divulge which organizations’ FTP credentials it found among the stolen, but they include companies in the financial, manufacturing, government, IT, and security industries, many of which Finjan has already alerted in addition to law enforcement. “There were some big names on the list,” Ben-Itzhak says, including some of the world's top 100 domains as ranked by Alexa.com.

The so-called meoryprof.info (Me-or-you-Profit) site is selling username, password, and server addresses of these FTP servers as well as the NeoSploit Version 2 crimeware package, which basically lets the bad guys who buy it instantly infect these sites with malicious code -- with the goal of stealing valuable and confidential data from them as well as any visitors to the sites. It also “qualifies” the stolen accounts so that buyers either can then set a price to resell the compromised FTP credentials to other cybercriminals, or determine which are the more potentially lucrative sites to hack.

“With a click of a button they say ‘I want to infect his FTP server’ with the crimeware,” says Ben-Itzhak. Finjan did not test all of the sites to see if they had been infected yet or not.

“The significance of the theft of the FTP credentials really depends upon the security practices in place at each site and the content on the server,” says Randy Abrams, director of technical education for Eset. “Unfortunately, the people most likely to have encountered the theft probably are not at the top of their security game. If the FTP server and other assets share the same logon credentials, the entire organization is owned. This is a very likely scenario.”

An attacker with admin credentials can replace any file, he says, and that could mean swapping valid apps for keyloggers, bots, and other crimeware.

Companies that run FTP services on the same server as their Web apps are even more at risk. “If the FTP server is not a dedicated server, then the gamut of content the thieves have access to can be devastating. Storing HR records on the same box? Storing sensitive trade secrets, client records, client lists, etc. on the same box?" Abrams says.

The "service" works like this: A buyer can purchase an exclusive list of FTP domains to attack, and the SaaS-like crimeware site provides the tool that injects iFrames into the compromised FTP servers.

This SaaS-like model basically replaces manual hacking of a site. “Before, they had to go online and buy a malicious toolkit, and then go and compromise the Website... Now they don’t need to download anything or do any manual hacking of a remote server,” Ben-Itzhak says.

Finjan isn’t sure who’s behind the scam, but there were many pages on the server written in Russian. “We don’t know if it’s the [Russian Business Network] or other groups... We just know it exists and is operating,” Ben-Itzhak says.

One interesting twist to this operation: The bad guys behind the scam inadvertently tipped their hand to Finjan while trying to make their code undetectable. Finjan researchers about a month ago noticed someone submitting the same URL over and over to its URL analysis page that checks for malicious code.

“They were trying to write malicious code that would be undetected by security products,” Ben-Itzhak says. That then led Finjan to the meoryprof.info site, and to the database of stolen FTP credentials.

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  • Finjan Software Inc.
  • ESET Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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