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

4/25/2017
03:50 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

xDedic Marketplace Data Spells Danger for Businesses

The xDedic marketplace, a hotspot for cybercriminals on the dark web, sells access to RDP servers to enable attacks on government and corporations.

xDedic is among the largest and most damaging marketplaces on the dark web. Six months ago, business risk intelligence firm Flashpoint discovered it had a data set with information belonging to more than 85,000 organizations.

Cybercriminals use xDedic to buy access for compromised Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers, which provide a convenient way to enter online systems, especially in companies with remote IT staff.  RDP is Microsoft's proprietary protocol, which lets users connect to other machines over the network and enables admins to remotely control servers and PCs.

Flashpoint has been watching xDedic for at least two years, says research director Vitali Kremez. The marketplace has been in operation since 2014 and has built a reputation among cybercriminals, who break into businesses' RDP servers so they can resell credentials online.

Hackers typically gain RDP access by first scanning the web for specific ports that link to Microsoft remote desktop protocols, Kremez explains. After identifying servers with the open port, they use brute force to test username and password combinations until a match is found.

Once they have access, they put the server up for sale and update administrator privileges. Anyone who buys credentials has a point of entry into the corporate network, which enables them to steal data, elevate privileges, launch external attacks, deploy ransomware, plant malware, manipulate network settings, and conduct account takeovers.

Their break-in tactics are most effective on short, weak server passwords and struggle against passwords that are longer and more complex, Kremez explains. However, large botnets can help attackers gain RDP access even when credentials are strong.

Kremez explains how threat actor "thedarkoverlord," known for breaching healthcare organizations, allegedly used this data set for at least some breaches. Healthcare is a frequently targeted sector, because access to open RDPs could give valuable data to cybercriminals.

"We had been investigating healthcare breaches," he continues. "One theme we noticed is, a lot of hospitals were breached because of exposed RDP servers."

However, it isn't the most frequently targeted industry.

The data set with information from more than 85,000 servers is representative of which industries are popular among hackers. Data analysis revealed the most exploited sectors are education, healthcare, legal, aviation, and government. The United States, Germany, and Ukraine are the more frequently targeted countries.

"Education is among the most unsecure; the most susceptible," says Kremez, noting how universities are easy to break into via brute-force attack. However, both universities and healthcare organizations have information-sharing communities through which they can share information about attacks and improve their infosec procedures.

Kremez believes the threats in xDedic will continue to grow in the future, especially after the recent Shadow Brokers release. If criminals continue to develop their toolkits and leverage exploits from the leak, they will cause even more damage if they can expand their access to other networks. While these exploits will have less of an impact because they aren't zero-days anymore, they can still prove dangerous, he says.

Businesses can protect themselves by not allowing their servers to be externally available and maintain proper access control, Kremez suggests. While it's convenient for technicians and network procedures to have servers available online, it's dangerous because cybercriminals typically try to brute-force access via externally available RDP servers.

He also advises taking password precautions. "Change passwords frequently, and make those passwords as complex as possible," he continues. "At the very least, it will thwart xDedic attackers."

Related Content

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... 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 7/9/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Mobile App Fraud Jumped in Q1 as Attackers Pivot from Browsers
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  7/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-14174
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow remote attackers to view titles of a private project via an Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR) vulnerability in the Administration Permission Helper. The affected versions are before version 7.13.6, from version 8.0.0 before 8.5....
CVE-2019-20901
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The login.jsp resource in Jira before version 8.5.2, and from version 8.6.0 before version 8.6.1 allows remote attackers to redirect users to a different website which they may use as part of performing a phishing attack via an open redirect in the os_destination parameter.
CVE-2019-20898
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow remote attackers to access sensitive information without being authenticated in the Global permissions screen. The affected versions are before version 8.8.0.
CVE-2019-20899
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The Gadget API in Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center in affected versions allows remote attackers to make Jira unresponsive via repeated requests to a certain endpoint in the Gadget API. The affected versions are before version 8.5.4, and from version 8.6.0 before 8.6.1.
CVE-2019-20900
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTML or JavaScript via a cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Add Field module. The affected versions are before version 8.7.0.