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On Dec. 23, 2022, KrebsOnSecurity alerted big-three consumer credit reporting bureau Experian that identity thieves had worked out how to bypass its security and access any consumer’s full credit report — armed with nothing more than a person’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Experian fixed the glitch, but remained silent about the incident for a month. This week, however, Experian acknowledged that the security failure persisted for nearly seven weeks, between Nov. 9, 2022 and Dec. 26, 2022.
The tip about the Experian weakness came from Jenya Kushnir, a security researcher living in Ukraine who said he discovered the method being used by identity thieves after spending time on Telegram chat channels dedicated to cybercrime.
Normally, Experian’s website will ask a series of multiple-choice questions about one’s financial history, as a way of validating the identity of the person requesting the credit report. But Kushnir said the crooks learned they could bypass those questions and trick Experian into giving them access to anyone’s credit report, just by editing the address displayed in the browser URL bar at a specific point in Experian’s identity verification process.
When I tested Kushnir’s instructions on my own identity at Experian, I found I was able to see my report even though Experian’s website told me it didn’t have enough information to validate my identity. A security researcher friend who tested it at Experian found she also could bypass Experian’s four or five multiple-choice security questions and go straight to her full credit report at Experian.
Experian acknowledged receipt of my Dec. 23 report four days later on Dec. 27, a day after Kushnir’s method stopped working on Experian’s website (the exploit worked as long as you came to Experian’s website via annualcreditreport.com — the site mandated to provide a free copy of your credit report from each of the major bureaus once a year).
Experian never did respond to official requests for comment on that story. But earlier this week, I received an otherwise unhelpful letter via snail mail from Experian (see image above), which stated that the weakness we reported persisted between Nov. 9, 2022 and Dec. 26, 2022.
“During this time period, we experienced an isolated technical issue where a security feature may not have functioned,” Experian explained.
It’s not entirely clear whether Experian sent me this paper notice because they legally had to, or if they felt I deserved a response in writing and thought maybe they’d kill two birds with one stone. But it’s pretty crazy that it took them a full month to notify me about the potential impact of a security failure that I notified them about.
It’s also a little nuts that Experian didn’t simply include a copy of my current credit report along with this letter, which is confusingly worded and reads like they suspect someone other than me may have been granted access to my credit report without any kind of screening or authorization.
After all, if I hadn’t authorized the request for my credit file that apparently prompted this letter (I had), that would mean the thieves already had my report. Shouldn’t I be granted the same visibility into my own credit file as them?
Instead, their woefully inadequate letter once again puts the onus on me to wait endlessly on hold for an Experian representative over the phone, or sign up for a free year’s worth of Experian monitoring my credit report.
As it stands, using Kushnir’s exploit was the only time I’ve ever been able to get Experian’s website to cough up a copy of my credit report. To make matters worse, a majority of the information in that credit report is not mine. So I’ve got that to look forward to.
If there is a silver lining here, I suppose that if I were Experian, I probably wouldn’t want to show Brian Krebs his credit file either. Because it’s clear this company has no idea who I really am. And in a weird, kind of sad way I guess, that makes me happy.
For thoughts on what you can do to minimize your victimization by and overall worth to the credit bureaus, see this section of the most recent Experian story.
from Krebs on Security https://ift.tt/FbmCtJd
Denis Emelyantsev, a 36-year-old Russian man accused of running a massive botnet called RSOCKS that stitched malware into millions of devices worldwide, pleaded guilty to two counts of computer crime violations in a California courtroom this week. The plea comes just months after Emelyantsev was extradited from Bulgaria, where he told investigators, “America is looking for me because I have enormous information and they need it.”
First advertised in the cybercrime underground in 2014, RSOCKS was the web-based storefront for hacked computers that were sold as “proxies” to cybercriminals looking for ways to route their Web traffic through someone else’s device.
Customers could pay to rent access to a pool of proxies for a specified period, with costs ranging from $30 per day for access to 2,000 proxies, to $200 daily for up to 90,000 proxies.
Many of the infected systems were Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including industrial control systems, time clocks, routers, audio/video streaming devices, and smart garage door openers. Later in its existence, the RSOCKS botnet expanded into compromising Android devices and conventional computers.
In June 2022, authorities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom announced a joint operation to dismantle the RSOCKS botnet. But that action did not name any defendants.
Inspired by that takedown, KrebsOnSecurity followed clues from the RSOCKS botnet master’s identity on the cybercrime forums to Emelyantsev’s personal blog, where he went by the name Denis Kloster. The blog featured musings on the challenges of running a company that sells “security and anonymity services to customers around the world,” and even included a group photo of RSOCKS employees.
“Thanks to you, we are now developing in the field of information security and anonymity!,” Kloster’s blog enthused. “We make products that are used by thousands of people around the world, and this is very cool! And this is just the beginning!!! We don’t just work together and we’re not just friends, we’re Family.”
But by the time that investigation was published, Emelyantsev had already been captured by Bulgarian authorities responding to an American arrest warrant. At his extradition hearing, Emelyantsev claimed he would prove his innocence in an U.S. courtroom.
“I have hired a lawyer there and I want you to send me as quickly as possible to clear these baseless charges,” Emelyantsev told the Bulgarian court. “I am not a criminal and I will prove it in an American court.”
Emelyantsev was far more than just an administrator of a large botnet. Behind the facade of his Internet advertising company based in Omsk, Russia, the RSOCKS botmaster was a major player in the Russian email spam industry for more than a decade.
Some of the top Russian cybercrime forums have been hacked over the years, and leaked private messages from those forums show the RSOCKS administrator claimed ownership of the RUSdot spam forum. RUSdot is the successor forum to Spamdot, a far more secretive and restricted community where most of the world’s top spammers, virus writers and cybercriminals collaborated for years before the forum imploded in 2010.
Indeed, the very first mentions of RSOCKS on any Russian-language cybercrime forums refer to the service by its full name as the “RUSdot Socks Server.”
Email spam — and in particular malicious email sent via compromised computers — is still one of the biggest sources of malware infections that lead to data breaches and ransomware attacks. So it stands to reason that as administrator of Russia’s most well-known forum for spammers, Emelyantsev probably knows quite a bit about other top players in the botnet spam and malware community.
It remains unclear whether Emelyantsev made good on his promise to spill that knowledge to American investigators as part of his plea deal. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, which has not responded to a request for comment.
Emelyantsev pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts, including damage to protected computers and conspiracy to damage protected computers. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, and is currently scheduled to be sentenced on April 27, 2023.
from Krebs on Security https://ift.tt/90qSN3C
T-Mobile today disclosed a data breach affecting tens of millions of customer accounts, its second major data exposure in as many years. In a filing with federal regulators, T-Mobile said an investigation determined that someone abused its systems to harvest subscriber data tied to approximately 37 million current customer accounts.
In a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, T-Mobile said a “bad actor” abused an application programming interface (API) to hoover up data on roughly 37 million current postpaid and prepaid customer accounts. The data stolen included customer name, billing address, email, phone number, date of birth, T-Mobile account number, as well as information on the number of customer lines and plan features.
APIs are essentially instructions that allow applications to access data and interact with web databases. But left improperly secured, these APIs can be leveraged by malicious actors to mass-harvest information stored in those databases. In October, mobile provider Optus disclosed that hackers abused a poorly secured API to steal data on 10 million customers in Australia.
The company said it first learned of the incident on Jan. 5, 2022, and that an investigation determined the bad actor started abusing the API beginning around Nov. 25, 2022.
T-Mobile says it is in the process of notifying affected customers, and that no customer payment card data, passwords, Social Security numbers, driver’s license or other government ID numbers were exposed.
In August 2021, T-Mobile acknowledged that hackers made off with the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver’s license/ID information on more than 40 million current, former or prospective customers who applied for credit with the company. That breach came to light after a hacker began selling the records on a cybercrime forum.
Last year, T-Mobile agreed to pay $500 million to settle all class action lawsuits stemming from the 2021 breach. The company pledged to spend $150 million of that money toward beefing up its own cybersecurity.
In its filing with the SEC, T-Mobile suggested it was going to take years to fully realize the benefits of those cybersecurity improvements, even as it claimed that protecting customer data remains a top priority.
“As we have previously disclosed, in 2021, we commenced a substantial multi-year investment working with leading external cybersecurity experts to enhance our cybersecurity capabilities and transform our approach to cybersecurity,” the filing reads. “We have made substantial progress to date, and protecting our customers’ data remains a top priority.”
Despite this being the second major customer data spill in as many years, T-Mobile told the SEC the company does not expect this latest breach to have a material impact on its operations.
While that may seem like a daring thing to say in a data breach disclosure affecting a significant portion of your active customer base, consider that T-Mobile reported revenues of nearly $20 billion in the third quarter of 2022 alone. In that context, a few hundred million dollars every couple of years to make the class action lawyers go away is a drop in the bucket.
The settlement related to the 2021 breach says T-Mobile will make $350 million available to customers who file a claim. But here’s the catch: If you were affected by that 2021 breach and you haven’t filed a claim yet, please know that you have only three more days to do that.
If you were a T-Mobile customer affected by the 2021 incident, it is likely that T-Mobile has already made several efforts to notify you of your eligibility to file a claim, which includes a payout of at least $25, with the possibility of more for those who can document direct costs associated with the breach. OpenClassActions.com says the filing deadline is Jan. 23, 2023.
“If you opt for a cash payment you will receive an estimated $25.00,” the site explains. “If you reside in California, you will receive an estimated $100.00. Out of pocket losses can be reimbursed for up to $25,000.00. The amount that you claim from T-Mobile will be determined by the class action administrator based on how many people file a legitimate and timely claim form.”
There are currently no signs that hackers are selling this latest data haul from T-Mobile, but if the past is any teacher much of it will wind up posted online soon. It is a safe bet that scammers will use some of this information to target T-Mobile users with phishing messages, account takeovers and harassment.
T-Mobile customers should fully expect to see phishers taking advantage of public concern over the breach to impersonate the company — and possibly even send messages that include the recipient’s compromised account details to make the communications look more legitimate.
Data stolen and exposed in this breach may also be used for identity theft. Credit monitoring and ID theft protection services can help you recover from having your identity stolen, but most will do nothing to stop the ID theft from happening. If you want the maximum control over who should be able to view your credit or grant new lines of credit in your name, then a security freeze is your best option.
Regardless of which mobile provider you patronize, please consider removing your phone number from as many online accounts as you can. Many online services require you to provide a phone number upon registering an account, but in many cases that number can be removed from your profile afterwards.
Why do I suggest this? Many online services allow users to reset their passwords just by clicking a link sent via SMS, and this unfortunately widespread practice has turned mobile phone numbers into de facto identity documents. Which means losing control over your phone number thanks to an unauthorized SIM swap or mobile number port-out, divorce, job termination or financial crisis can be devastating.
from Krebs on Security https://ift.tt/3DLmBQM
Most people who operate DDoS-for-hire businesses attempt to hide their true identities and location. Proprietors of these so-called “booter” or “stresser” services — designed to knock websites and users offline — have long operated in a legally murky area of cybercrime law. But until recently, their biggest concern wasn’t avoiding capture or shutdown by the feds: It was minimizing harassment from unhappy customers or victims, and insulating themselves against incessant attacks from competing DDoS-for-hire services.
And then there are booter store operators like John Dobbs, a 32-year-old computer science graduate student living in Honolulu, Hawaii. For at least a decade until late last year, Dobbs openly operated IPStresser[.]com, a popular and powerful attack-for-hire service that he registered with the state of Hawaii using his real name and address. Likewise, the domain was registered in Dobbs’s name and hometown in Pennsylvania.
The only work experience Dobbs listed on his resume was as a freelance developer from 2013 to the present day. Dobbs’s resume doesn’t name his booter service, but in it he brags about maintaining websites with half a million page views daily, and “designing server deployments for performance, high-availability and security.”
In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice seized Dobbs’s IPStresser website and charged him with one count of aiding and abetting computer intrusions. Prosecutors say his service attracted more than two million registered users, and was responsible for launching a staggering 30 million distinct DDoS attacks.
The government seized four-dozen booter domains, and criminally charged Dobbs and five other U.S. men for allegedly operating stresser services. This was the Justice Department’s second such mass takedown targeting DDoS-for-hire services and their accused operators. In 2018, the feds seized 15 stresser sites, and levied cybercrime charges against three men for their operation of booter services.
Many accused stresser site operators have pleaded guilty over the years after being hit with federal criminal charges. But the government’s core claim — that operating a booter site is a violation of U.S. computer crime laws — wasn’t properly tested in the courts until September 2021.
That was when a jury handed down a guilty verdict against Matthew Gatrel, a then 32-year-old St. Charles, Ill. man charged in the government’s first 2018 mass booter bust-up. Despite admitting to FBI agents that he ran two booter services (and turning over plenty of incriminating evidence in the process), Gatrel opted to take his case to trial, defended the entire time by court-appointed attorneys.
Prosecutors said Gatrel’s booter services — downthem[.]org and ampnode[.]com — helped some 2,000 paying customers launch debilitating digital assaults on more than 20,000 targets, including many government, banking, university and gaming websites.
Gatrel was convicted on all three charges of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, including conspiracy to commit unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Now, it appears Dobbs is also planning to take his chances with a jury. On Jan. 4, Dobbs entered a plea of not guilty. Neither Dobbs nor his court-appointed attorney responded to requests for comment.
But as it happens, Dobbs himself provided some perspective on his thinking in an email exchange with KrebsOnSecurity back in 2020. I’d reached out to Dobbs because it was obvious he didn’t mind if people knew he operated one of the world’s most popular DDoS-for-hire sites, and I was genuinely curious why he was so unafraid of getting raided by the feds.
“Yes, I am the owner of the domain you listed, however you are not authorized to post an article containing said domain name, my name or this email address without my prior written permission,” Dobbs replied to my initial outreach on March 10, 2020 using his email address from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
A few hours later, I received more strident instructions from Dobbs, this time via his official email address at ipstresser[.]com.
“I will state again for absolute clarity, you are not authorized to post an article containing ipstresser.com, my name, my GitHub profile and/or my hawaii.edu email address,” Dobbs wrote, as if taking dictation from a lawyer who doesn’t understand how the media works.
When pressed for particulars on his business, Dobbs replied that the number of IPStresser customers was “privileged information,” and said he didn’t even advertise the service. When asked whether he was concerned that many of his competitors were by then serving jail time for operating similar booter services, Dobbs maintained that the way he’d set up the business insulated him from any liability.
“I have been aware of the recent law enforcement actions against other operators of stress testing services,” Dobbs explained. “I cannot speak to the actions of these other services, but we take proactive measures to prevent misuse of our service and we work with law enforcement agencies regarding any reported abuse of our service.”
What were those proactive measures? In a 2015 interview with ZDNet France, Dobbs asserted that he was immune from liability because his clients all had to submit a digital signature attesting that they wouldn’t use the site for illegal purposes.
Dobbs told KrebsOnSecurity his service didn’t generate much of a profit, but rather that he was motivated by “filling a legitimate need.”
“My reason for offering the service is to provide the ability to test network security measures before someone with malicious intent attacks said network and causes downtime,” he said. “Sure, some people see only the negatives, but there is a long list of companies I have worked with over the years who would say my service is a godsend and has helped them prevent tens of thousands of dollars in downtime resulting from a malicious attack.”
“I do not believe that providing such a service is illegal, assuming proper due diligence to prevent malicious use of the service, as is the case for IPstresser[.]com,” Dobbs continued. “Someone using such a service to conduct unauthorized testing is illegal in many countries, however, the legal liability is that of the user, not of the service provider.”
Dobbs’s profile on GitHub includes more of his ideas about his work, including a curious piece on “software engineering ethics.” In his January 2020 treatise “My Software Engineering Journey,” Dobbs laments that nothing in his formal education prepared him for the reality that a great deal of his work would be so tedious and repetitive (this tracks closely with a 2020 piece here called Career Choice Tip: Cybercrime is Mostly Boring).
“One area of software engineering that I think should be covered more in university classes is maintenance,” Dobbs wrote. “Projects are often worked on for at most a few months, and students do not experience the maintenance aspect of software engineering until they reach the workplace. Let’s face it, ongoing maintenance of a project is boring; there is nothing like the euphoria of completing a project you have been working on for months and releasing it to the world, but I would say that half of my professional career has been related to maintenance.”
Allison Nixon is chief research officer at the New York-based cybersecurity firm Unit 221B. Nixon is part of a small group of researchers who have been closely tracking the DDoS-for-hire industry for years, and she said Dobbs’s claim that what he’s doing is legal makes sense given that it took years for the government to recognize the size of the problem.
“These guys are arguing that their services are legal because for a long time nothing happened to them,” Nixon said. “It’s difficult to argue something is illegal if no one has ever been arrested for it before.”
Nixon says the government’s fight against the booter services — and by extension other types of cybercrimes — is hampered by a legal system that often takes years to cycle through cybercrime cases.
“With cybercrime, the cycle between the crime and investigation and arrest can often take a year or more, and that’s for a really fast case,” Nixon said. “If someone robbed a store, we’d expect a police response within a few minutes. If someone robs a bank’s website, there might be some indication of police activity within a year.”
Nixon praised the 2022 and 2018 booter takedown operations as “huge steps forward,” but added that “there need to be more of them, and faster.”
“This time lag is part of the reason it’s so difficult to shut down the pipeline of new talent going into cybercrime,” she said. “They think what they’re doing is legal because nothing has happened, and because of the amount of time it takes to shut these things down. And it’s really a big problem, where we see a lot of people becoming criminals on the basis that what they’re doing isn’t really illegal because the cops won’t do anything.”
In December 2020, Dobbs filed an application with the state of Hawaii to withdraw IP Stresser Inc. from its roster of active companies. But according to prosecutors, Dobbs would continue to operate his DDoS-for-hire site until at least November 2022.
Two months after our 2020 email interview, Dobbs would earn his second bachelor’s degree (in computer science; his resume says he earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Drexel University in 2013). The federal charges against Dobbs came just as he was preparing to enter his final semester toward a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Hawaii.
Nixon says she has a message for anyone involved in operating a DDoS-for-hire service.
“Unless you are verifying that the target owns the infrastructure you’re targeting, there is no legal way to operate a DDoS-for-hire service,” she said. “There is no Terms of Service you could put on the site that would somehow make it legal.”
And her message to the customers of those booter services? It’s a compelling one to ponder, particularly now that investigators in the United States, U.K. and elsewhere have started going after booter service customers.
“When a booter service claims they don’t share logs, they’re lying because logs are legal leverage for when the booter service operator gets arrested,” Nixon said. “And when they do, you’re going to be the first people they throw under the bus.”
from Krebs on Security https://ift.tt/lL43JQd
Microsoft today released updates to fix nearly 100 security flaws in its Windows operating systems and other software. Highlights from the first Patch Tuesday of 2023 include a zero-day vulnerability in Windows, printer software flaws reported by the U.S. National Security Agency, and a critical Microsoft SharePoint Server bug that allows a remote, unauthenticated attacker to make an anonymous connection.
At least 11 of the patches released today are rated “Critical” by Microsoft, meaning they could be exploited by malware or malcontents to seize remote control over vulnerable Windows systems with little or no help from users.
Of particular concern for organizations running Microsoft SharePoint Server is CVE-2023-21743. This is a Critical security bypass flaw that could allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to make an anonymous connection to a vulnerable SharePoint server. Microsoft says this flaw is “more likely to be exploited” at some point.
But patching this bug may not be as simple as deploying Microsoft updates. Dustin Childs, head of threat awareness at Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative, said sysadmins need to take additional measures to be fully protected from this vulnerability.
“To fully resolve this bug, you must also trigger a SharePoint upgrade action that’s also included in this update,” Childs said. “Full details on how to do this are in the bulletin. Situations like this are why people who scream ‘Just patch it!’ show they have never actually had to patch an enterprise in the real world.”
Eighty-seven of the vulnerabilities earned Redmond’s slightly less dire “Important” severity rating. That designation describes vulnerabilities “whose exploitation could result in compromise of the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of user data, or of the integrity or availability of processing resources.”
Among the more Important bugs this month is CVE-2023-21674, which is an “elevation of privilege” weakness in most supported versions of Windows that has already been abused in active attacks.
Satnam Narang, senior staff research engineer at Tenable, said although details about the flaw were not available at the time Microsoft published its advisory on Patch Tuesday, it appears this was likely chained together with a vulnerability in a Chromium-based browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge in order to break out of a browser’s sandbox and gain full system access.
“Vulnerabilities like CVE-2023-21674 are typically the work of advanced persistent threat (APT) groups as part of targeted attacks,” Narang said. “The likelihood of future widespread exploitation of an exploit chain like this is limited due to auto-update functionality used to patch browsers.”
By the way, when was the last time you completely closed out your Web browser and restarted it? Some browsers will automatically download and install new security updates, but the protection from those updates usually only happens after you restart the browser.
Speaking of APT groups, the U.S. National Security Agency is credited with reporting CVE-2023-21678, which is another “important” vulnerability in the Windows Print Spooler software.
There have been so many vulnerabilities patched in Microsoft’s printing software over the past year (including the dastardly PrintNightmare attacks and borked patches) that KrebsOnSecurity has joked about Patch Tuesday reports being sponsored by Print Spooler. Tenable’s Narang points out that this is the third Print Spooler flaw the NSA has reported in the last year.
Kevin Breen at Immersive Labs called special attention to CVE-2023-21563, which is a security feature bypass in BitLocker, the data and disk encryption technology built into enterprise versions of Windows.
“For organizations that have remote users, or users that travel, this vulnerability may be of interest,” Breen said. “We rely on BitLocker and full-disk encryption tools to keep our files and data safe in the event a laptop or device is stolen. While information is light, this appears to suggest that it could be possible for an attacker to bypass this protection and gain access to the underlying operating system and its contents. If security teams are not able to apply this patch, one potential mitigation could be to ensure Remote Device Management is deployed with the ability to remotely disable and wipe assets.”
There are also two Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities patched this month — CVE-2023-21762 and CVE-2023-21745. Given the rapidity with which threat actors exploit new Exchange bugs to steal corporate email and infiltrate vulnerable systems, organizations using Exchange should patch immediately. Microsoft’s advisory says these Exchange flaws are indeed “more likely to be exploited.”
Adobe released four patches addressing 29 flaws in Adobe Acrobat and Reader, InDesign, InCopy, and Adobe Dimension. The update for Reader fixes 15 bugs with eight of these being ranked Critical in severity (allowing arbitrary code execution if an affected system opened a specially crafted file).
For a more granular rundown on the updates released today, see the SANS Internet Storm Center roundup. Nearly 100 updates is a lot, and there are bound to be a few patches that cause problems for organizations and end users. When that happens, AskWoody.com usually has the lowdown.
Please consider backing up your data and/or imaging your system before applying any updates. And please sound off in the comments if you experience any problems as a result of these patches.
from Krebs on Security https://ift.tt/QZzgWKT