Security

They break into your network but do nothing themselves: 'Initial access brokers' resell stolen creds for $7k a pop

So says Digital Shadows as it puts a price on illicit access methods


A growing category of cyber-crime consists of breaking into corporate networks and doing nothing else – except selling that illicit access to others for about $7,000 a go, says infosec biz Digital Shadows.

Research published today highlighted what the firm dubbed "initial access brokers" in the delightful world of online criminality. The infosec biz said it was tracking around 500 marketplaces where illicit access to breached networks is bought and sold. To be clear, this kind of trade in access has existed for a long while, it's just now apparent that it's on the rise.

"The dramatic increase in remote working coupled with ransomware's commercial success has been a perfect storm of opportunity for initial access brokers," said Rick Holland, CISO at Digital Shadows, in a canned statement.

"These actors are cashing in because of the flourishing demand and their specialization. They concentrate on one aspect of the cybercriminal ecosystem, gaining access to your network, and they do it very well."

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The firm described what it said was a "notable increase" in the number of stolen-creds-for-sale postings, with the average price for a working access method being $7,100 and comprising around 17 per cent of listings seen by Digital Shadows. This price increases to $9,800 for remote desktop protocol (RDP) access, echoing research from ESET showing a 700 per cent increase in the number of RDP access attempts during 2020.

Aside from RDP breaches, gaining illicit access to a Windows domain admin account commands an average price of $8,167 and made up 16 per cent of the criminal forum ads seen by the infosec firm. Also of interest, albeit to a much lesser extent, are compromised corporate VPN credentials, with those fetching an average of $2,871 apiece.

Users of Citrix's remote working products should also be on their guard. Digital Shadows warned in its full report: "Ransomware operators, such as Sodinokibi (aka REvil), Ragnarok, Maze, DoppelPaymer, and Nefilim have all been observed exploiting Citrix systems' vulnerability in 2020."

VPN access has long been a favored tactic of criminals trying to steal valuable information or deposit ransomware, with a spate of VPN-focused attacks targeting improperly secured Pulse Secure products characterizing the early part of last year. ®

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Sysadmin for FIN7 criminal cracking group gets 10 years in US prison for managing card slurping malware scam

Plus Pwn2Own faces fire and update Chrome immediately

In Brief The former systems administrator for the FIN7 card-slurping gang has been sentenced to 10 years in a US prison.

Fedir Hladyr, 35, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking last year, and on Friday was sentenced for his role in the theft and resale of over than 20 million customer card records from over 6,500 point-of-sale terminals across the US using the malware dubbed Carbanak.

Hladyr set up a front company, Combi Security, to cover his actions as he funneled the purloined data around the criminal underworld. He managed the encrypted comms network the gang used, ran the server farms used to spread and exploit malware, and coordinated individual attacks.

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Japanese auto chipmaker Renesas expects to resume full production next month following fab blaze

Glimmer of hope on the semiconductor front – for the car industry anyway

Japanese chipmaker Renesas has said it will restore full production capacity at its N3 Naka plant by the middle of next month following a blaze in March that destroyed equipment and contaminated the clean room.

Renesas, which accounts for a third of all automotive semiconductor sales globally, said it expects to be at half-capacity by the end of April. CEO Hidetoshi Shibata confirmed in a press conference the company plans to install new fire suppression equipment to prevent any future fires.

Operations at the Naka N3 clean room resumed on 9 April. According to a notice from Renesas, the company had to rely on over 1,600 workers each day (both internal and from third parties) to rebuild and decontaminate the clean room, illustrating both the scale of destruction and difficulty in restoration.

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Huawei could have snooped on the Dutch prime minister's phone calls thanks to KPN network core access

Nobody caught – er, held us responsible, says Chinese firm

Huawei was able to snoop on the Dutch prime minister's phone calls and track down Chinese dissidents because it was included in the core of the Netherlands' mobile networks, an explosive news report has claimed.

Dutch national daily Volkskrant (behind a pay wall) reported over the weekend that mobile operator KPN, which used Huawei-supplied equipment in the core of its network, discovered the full extent of the Chinese company's doings in 2010 after it commissioned Capgemini to write an outsourcing risk analysis report .

Not only could the prime minister be eavesdropped on by Huawei, along with millions of other customers, said KPN as it quoted the report, but it could also identify people being snooped on by the Dutch state as well.

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On a dusty red planet almost 290 million km away... NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flies

NASA’s JPL lab speaks to The Reg

The first human-made helicopter to take flight on another planet, Ingenuity, has hovered in Martian skies after NASA at last launched the device into the air.

Amid cheers, engineers confirmed the diminutive helicopter had spun up its rotors, taken off, landed and spun everything down, leaving the stage set for further tests. An image from the helicopter's onboard navigation camera showing its shadow on the surface of Mars was swiftly followed by another sequence from the Perseverance rover showing the helicopter hovering.

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Oracle cuts support for South African energy biz Eskom in long-running licensing dispute

'Eskom should pay the pending dues for the Oracle software that they use'

Oracle has pulled the plug on support for software described as "quite essential" to "crucial operations" at South African energy firm Eskom as part of an ongoing licensing dispute.

Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Big Red had withdrawn support for multiple software systems after the electricity provider failed to have the courts compel Oracle to continue while the dispute was settled. Eskom had also offered to pay what it thought it owed upfront until the figure was agreed in court.

Mantshantsha confirmed that Oracle had withdrawn some of its technical support services. "Eskom has contingency plans in place to reduce the risk of disruption resulting from the dispute with Oracle," he said.

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Plot twist! South Korean telco uses 5G to fight coronavirus via hospital-patrolling robot

Modified Keemi disinfects, takes temperatures, tells you off for not socially distancing

South Korea Telecom (SKT) has linked up with Yongin Severance Hospital to commercialise and deploy facility-roaming robots that minimise the need for face-to-face contact, thus supporting reduced COVID transmission.

"The plan is to ensure that citizens can safely use the hospital through a 24-hour constant quarantine system, and to further strengthen the infection control system in the hospital so that patients in the Corona 19 environment can receive treatment at the National Safety Hospital without anxiety of infection," said SKT in a canned statement.

The robots take temperatures via facial measurements. Mask checks are done through facial recognition, AI technology, and voice guidance warnings. Social distancing is analysed via AI technology and 3D cameras that can calculate distance. During the day, the robot offers hand-sanitising services. At night, it sterilises the environment via UV rays. Operation and other real-time data is communicated to operators over 5G.

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UK Home Office tenders £5m for a supplier to help it greenlight IT projects. Yes, you read that correctly

Procurement raises questions over supplier creating its own sales pipeline within govt

The UK's Home Office is tendering to recruit a supplier to help manage the selection of its IT projects, leading to concerns over conflict of interest.

The notice published in the public sector Digital Marketplace is seeking a company to help deliver and operate the "discovery-as-a-service" capability for the "Innovation - Law Enforcement" (I-LE) function within the Police and Public Protection Technology Portfolio (PPPT), with a £5m contract on the table.

The snappy moniker – DaaS – alludes to the discovery phase in the UK government's IT project service manual. Discovery, it says, means learning about users and what they're trying to achieve; constraints the project faces in making changes to how the service is run because, for example, of technology or legislation; and the underlying policy intent the project is set to address and so on.

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Brit authorities could legally do an FBI and scrub malware from compromised boxen without your knowledge

Would move for The Greater Good™ actually be good, though?

Comment UK authorities could lawfully copy the FBI and forcibly remove web shells from compromised Microsoft Exchange server deployments – but some members of the British infosec industry are remarkably quiet about whether this would be a good thing.

In the middle of last week the American authorities made waves after deleting web shells from Exchange Server deployments compromised in the Hafnium attacks. The agency had gone to the US federal courts for permission, which it received.

The entire infosec world had been bellowing at IT admins to update and mitigate the vulns, which were being exploited by skilled and malicious people who found the remote-code-execution bug. Nonetheless, some laggards still hadn't bothered – and with compromised boxen providing a useful base for criminals to launch further attacks from, evidently the FBI felt the wider risk was too great not to step in.

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Truth and consequences for enterprise AI as EU know who goes legal: GDPR of everything from chatbots to machine learning

Regulations On A European Approach For Artificial Intelligence

One of the Brexit bonuses we’ve been enjoying since January 1st is that we have abandoned our influence within the world’s regulatory superpower.

America and China may have industrial and military dominance, but by placing a decent proportion of global economic activity under the world’s strongest regulatory regime, the EU forces the pace for everyone else. GDPR commands respect around the world.

So when the draft "Regulation On A European Approach For Artificial Intelligence" leaked earlier this week, it made quite the splash - and not just because it’s the size of a novella. It goes to town on AI just as fiercely as GDPR did on data, proposing chains of responsibility, defining "high risk AI" that gets the full force of the regs, proposing multi-million euro fines for non-compliance, and defining a whole set of harmful behaviours and limits to what AI can do with individuals and in general.

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Debian devs decide best response to Richard Stallman controversy is … nothing

Two-week vote dismissed options to back or sack controversial FOSS figure

The Debian developer community has decided to say nothing about the new controversy surrounding Richard Stallman relection to the board at the Free Software Foundation.

The decision to say nothing came after a call for the project to support an open letter that called for Stallman’s removal from all leadership positions in the free software community and the removal of the entire Free Software Foundation for enabling Stallman.

Stallman resigned from the Foundation in 2019 after making incredibly insensitive remarks, in which he questioned whether the term “sexual assault” was applicable in the case of a woman who, aged 17, was coerced to have sex with MIT professor Marvin Minksy.

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You want a reboot? I'll give you a reboot! Happy now?

Two windows, one tetchy techie – what could possibly go wrong?

Who, me? Today's tale from The Register's Who, Me? files is a reminder that a momentary loss of focus is all that is required to trigger a potentially catastrophic error.

Our contributor, Regomised as "Sam", regaled us with a story from a mere five years ago when he was still a fresh-faced worker doing time as second-line support at the service desk of a large motorcycle broker.

He had been called into the office on a Sunday to deal with a problem with the systems. "My boss," he said, with a less than fresh-faced weariness, "was nagging me about something another colleague did (as she saw everything as my fault) and she wanted me to restart a training server of the main brokerage platform because the restore had failed."

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