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4/9/2019
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'Digital Doppelganger' Underground Takes Payment Card Theft to the Next Level

Massive criminal marketplace discovered packaging and selling stolen credentials along with victims' online behavior footprints.

KASPERSKY SECURITY ANALYST SUMMIT - Singapore - Meet the next generation of carding and identity theft: a newly discovered, large online marketplace that sells not only stolen credentials but also the victims' online fingerprints that allow criminals to dodge anti-fraud systems while using the pilfered online accounts.

A Kaspersky Lab researcher here today revealed his team's discovery of the so-called Genesis darknet market that deals in these digital doppelgangers. Genesis sells more than 60,000 stolen, legitimate digital identities for anywhere from $5 to $200 each. It uses stolen information about the users' online digital characteristics - such as their devices' operating system, browser, GPU, DNS, and online behavior patterns - from financial institutions' anti-fraud systems to confirm that online transactions are being conducted by account owners and not fraudsters.

These so-called digital masks, used together with the victim's login and passwords for his or her online accounts, allow a criminal to pose as that very user: an evil online doppelganger that can then cheat anti-fraud systems. Genesis is a Russian-speaking operation that to date deals in mostly stolen US and Canadian consumer online accounts, as well as from Europe, said Sergey Lozhkin, a Kaspersky Lab security researcher who headed up the investigation of Genesis.

Lozhkin said this combination of stolen logins with the victim's digital "mask" is not really a new cybercriminal technique - the capability was traded in small, private forums in the past - but Genesis represents the first large criminal enterprise to sell them commodity-style. "This is the first big operation coming from this ... it's the next generation of carding," he said.

It's difficult for fraud prevention systems to spot these digital doppelgangers because they pose so convincingly as the legitimate accountholder, including information on the victim's online buying history, computer screen size, and other information from their browsers and cookies. Without that identifying information, fraudsters can't consistently cash in on stolen payment cards.

"When a bad guy enters your credit card information, in most cases he won't succeed because the anti-fraud [system] will find him out as he's trying to enter multiple cards from one device," Lozhkin said. That's because a user's browser typically contains a wide variety of parameters associated with him or her, data that's used by anti-fraud systems to verify a user.

Genesis also includes in its digital doppelganger sale a plug-in for Chromium-based browsers that downloads and installs the victim's identifying information into the browser. "This plug-in is widely configured: you can use a fingerprint, change a fingerprint, and generate a fingerprint. It's all done in one click," he said. It basically spoofs the victim's user behavior online, along with the "fingerprint" information, and the criminal appears to the anti-fraud system as the legitimate user.

The tool lets criminals search for specific types of stolen accounts, such as eBay, Amazon, and Chase, and even from specific countries. Lozhkin said law enforcement has been alerted about Genesis, which has been operational for about a year.

Another similar tool available to carders outside of Genesis is the Tenebris browser that comes with a built-in generator of unique user behavior fingerprints, he said. This allows a criminal to launch online fraud from the browser.

The main defense from your digital doppelganger? Multi-factor authentication, which thwarts any abuse of stolen credentials and digital masks, according to Lozhkin.  

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. 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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