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.

Threat Intelligence

5/30/2017
05:20 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cybercriminals Regularly Battle it Out on the Dark Web

People operating criminal services on Tor and other darknets attack each other frequently, a study by Trend Micro shows.

Apparently, there's very little love lost between criminals in the cyber underworld.

A study of the Dark Web by Trend Micro shows that cybercriminals attack each other with almost the same ferocity as they reserve for their victims outside of it.

The security vendor recently set up four honeypots simulating a cybercrime operation on the Tor network. One of the honeypots simulated an invitation-only black market for stolen goods, another masqueraded as an underground forum for registered users, and one purported to be a private FTP file server for sensitive documents. The fourth honeypot purported to be a blog offering custom criminal services on the Dark Web.

The goal of the exercise was to find out if cyber criminals operating in the Dark Web tend to attack hidden services and servers used by other criminals on Tor.

The answer as it turned out was a resounding "yes." Over the six month period that the honeypots were up, Trend Micro counted numerous attacks against them from inside Tor and from the Internet as well. The attacks peaked in May, averaged around 170 per day.

"Gangs are actively targeting opponents to enlarge their domain in the Dark Web," says Marco Balduzzi, senior researcher at Trend Micro.

The Dark Web is a perfect platform for exchanging shady services such hacking services, 0-day flaws, other malware, and goods like illegal drugs, he says. "These 'shopping sites' are run by criminals who actively deface each other to redirect possible customers to their own shop."

In many cases, attackers looked for opportunities to compromise other criminal sites on the Dark Web so they could launch denial-of-service and targeted attacks with even more cover than if they were to launch them using their own infrastructure.

"Since the Dark Web — like Tor — enforces anonymity and confidentiality by protocol, a compromised machine in this network, gives the attacker the possibility to run anonymous attacks to third parties," Balduzzi says.

Among the attacks that Trend Micro saw were those that attempted to subvert traffic away from its honeypots to competitor websites. Also common were attempts to hijack and listen into the communications from and to the honeypot, as well as to steal data from their honeypot that was disguised as an FTP server.

Interestingly, Trend Micro's security researchers discovered that services hosted on Tor are not as private or inaccessible as some would assume. Tor proxies like Tor2web that allow Internet users to access the network, also makes hidden services on Tor accessible to search engines.

Trend Micro's honeypot on Tor was openly available to the public Internet and received a majority of the attacks in May, from there.

"Services hidden in the Dark Web are prone to attacks similarly to misconfigured and vulnerable services exposed to the Internet," Balduzzi says. Organizations that use Tor for legitimate purposes should not assume that a service or server us going to be hidden just because it is configured in the Dark Web as a hidden service, he warns.

Unlike attacks on the Internet, many of which are automated and of relatively low quality, attacks inside the Dark Web are manual and conducted by people with very specific goals in mind.

"On the Internet, websites are indexed by search engines like Google and attackers use Google Dorks to find vulnerable sites," he says.

This is a task that is usually conducted by bots and the attacks themselves tend to be generic: For example, an unpatched system might get attacked for secondary exploitation. On Tor, "attackers know what they are doing," Balduzzi says.

As a result, attacks are more sophisticated and running a specific goal like subverting an opponent business or stealing specific information.

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
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
RyanSepe
100%
0%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2017 | 9:53:25 PM
"These 'shopping sites' are run by criminals who actively deface each other to redirect possible customers to their own shop."
This statement is the encapsulation of the free market in a nefarious context.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2017 | 9:24:50 PM
Level of Expertise
The level of expertise shown by this exercise is to be expected. Malicious activity against organizations that technologically are publicly facing is attainable even by novice level actors. The dark web is a venue for predominantly experienced individuals and groups. If malicious activity is to take place, it's only logical that it would be more advanced.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2017 | 9:10:58 PM
Rarely thought about but makes sense
This is a premise I have thought little about but makes sense. After thinking about this more thoroughly it would make more sense because though the potential for retaliation exists, there is less likelihood of legal persecution due to the nature of the activity.
Cloud Security Threats for 2021
Or Azarzar, CTO & Co-Founder of Lightspin,  12/3/2020
Why Vulnerable Code Is Shipped Knowingly
Chris Eng, Chief Research Officer, Veracode,  11/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Todays Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Todays Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27772
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-04
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in coders/bmp.c. An attacker who submits a crafted file that is processed by ImageMagick could trigger undefined behavior in the form of values outside the range of type `unsigned int`. This would most likely lead to an impact to application availability, but could po...
CVE-2020-27773
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-04
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in MagickCore/gem-private.h. An attacker who submits a crafted file that is processed by ImageMagick could trigger undefined behavior in the form of values outside the range of type `unsigned char` or division by zero. This would most likely lead to an impact to appli...
CVE-2020-28950
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-04
The installer of Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool (KART) prior to KART 4.0 Patch C was vulnerable to a DLL hijacking attack that allowed an attacker to elevate privileges during installation process.
CVE-2020-27774
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-04
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in MagickCore/statistic.c. An attacker who submits a crafted file that is processed by ImageMagick could trigger undefined behavior in the form of a too large shift for 64-bit type `ssize_t`. This would most likely lead to an impact to application availability, but co...
CVE-2020-27775
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-04
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in MagickCore/quantum.h. An attacker who submits a crafted file that is processed by ImageMagick could trigger undefined behavior in the form of values outside the range of type unsigned char. This would most likely lead to an impact to application availability, but c...