Top tip, hacker newbs: Don't use the same Skype ID for IoT bot herding and job ads

Opsec, not just for Christmas

Updated An alleged teenage tearaway with a passion for building botnets was caught using the same Skype ID he used for hacking activities when applying for jobs.

Researchers at NewSky Security claim they spotted the 13-year-old's Skype name on job ad message boards and a website called Daddyhackingteam, which hosts numerous code snippets for building armies of online soldiers out of hijacked Internet of Things devices. Ever since Mirai hit the headlines, such networks of compromised gadgets are all the rage with wannabe cyber-gangsters: the commandeered machines can be used to launch massive attacks against victims' servers, and so on.

And it seems this kid, or someone pretending to be a kid anyway, set up this website to share malicious code, and hoped to build an army of hijacked CCTV cameras.

From June to August, the teen made numerous inquiries on his forum about subverting internet-connected cameras. It appears he was somewhat successful, and began to build a small botnet using a Gr1n malware variant – which takes over internet-facing devices by brute-forcing their login passwords. This itself is a fork of the Poole software nasty.

While researching the upstart botnet herder, NewSky's bods noticed the kid was using his or her Skype ID on IT job websites. In one post, the person publicly answered a 'help wanted' job advert for running servers during his school holidays with their hacker Skype ID.

"We found it either bold or immature of a malware author to use the same contact information for job hunting as well as for malicious activities," said Ankit Anubhav, principal researcher at NewSky, on Tuesday. "However, in his job search attempt, he mentions that he is 13 years old, which pretty much explains the dual use."

The researchers messaged the character and engaged in a conversation. The teenager cheerfully admitted to infecting 300 devices to build a mini botnet, although the cyber-tyke complained they still hadn't cracked any CCTV cameras.

When the infosec pros explained who they were and that what he or she was doing was highly illegal, the little rascal said they were aware that it was naughty, but didn't think they'd get into serious trouble because they are a minor.

"While various laws do have less harsh sentences for juveniles, in this case, we see this person taking advantage of that," noted Anubhav.

The researcher reckons setting up a botnet is literally child's play these days, in part because malware authors are giving away the code on GitHub and elsewhere to easily install and run. He suspects this is because IoT botnets are difficult to monetize and it's still a new area of research.

We've pinged the teen – aka quickscopegoespro69 – for comment, and will let you know if they get back to us. ®

Updated to add

Quickscope has been in touch to say, and we repeat this verbatim:

im somewhere and im almost positive i wont be found. I just came to the botnet community because i found it as a way to enhance my coding skillset I was planning to get out after i mastered python and C but now the feds gonna be all over my ass i bought plane tickets im leaving the country i will be amazed if im caught by the time my flight leaves

Color us skeptical, but we're not entirely convinced this person is 13 years old.

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Millions of people's info stolen from MGM Resorts dumped on Telegram for free
    Meanwhile, Twitter coughs up $150m after using account security contact details for advertising

    Miscreants have dumped on Telegram more than 142 million customer records stolen from MGM Resorts, exposing names, postal and email addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth for any would-be identity thief.

    The vpnMentor research team stumbled upon the files, which totaled 8.7 GB of data, on the messaging platform earlier this week, and noted that they "assume at least 30 million people had some of their data leaked." MGM Resorts, a hotel and casino chain, did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

    The researchers reckon this information is linked to the theft of millions of guest records, which included the details of Twitter's Jack Dorsey and pop star Justin Bieber, from MGM Resorts in 2019 that was subsequently distributed via underground forums.

    Continue reading
  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block some Microsoft web trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains.

    Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022