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Exposed Secrets: Unmasking Data Breaches, Stolen Credentials & Illicit Dark Web Bazaars



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Infostealer malware is a significant and often underestimated threat to corporate information security teams. These malicious programs infect computers, steal credentials saved in browsers, along with active session cookies and other data, and send it back to the attacker’s command and control infrastructure. In some cases, the malware even self-terminates after completing its mission.

In this article, we’ll discuss how cybercriminals use stolen credentials to gain unauthorized access to privileged IT infrastructure, leading to data breaches and ransomware attacks. But infostealers aren’t the only threat; leaked credentials from more traditional sources continue to pose substantial risks to organizations.

It’s no secret that people often reuse the same password across multiple applications, creating a perfect opportunity for hackers to brute force their way into software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-premises applications.

At IT Services, we currently monitor over forty million stealer logs. This number is growing by millions every month, with an expected increase in 2024. Additionally, we monitor over 14 billion leaked credentials found in data dumps across the dark web.

This unique perspective allows us to see firsthand how threat actors acquire, distribute, and use leaked credentials.

Understanding Leaked Credentials

To better comprehend leaked credentials, we can categorize them into tiers based on the method of leakage and the risk they pose to organizations. This approach, pioneered by Jason Haddix, helps security professionals clearly communicate credential leak risks to managers and corporate executives.

Tier 1 Leaked Credentials

Tier 1 leaked credentials result from third-party application or service breaches. When these breaches occur, all users of the affected service have their passwords compromised and distributed in a data dump on the dark web. This is the most common type of leaked credential.

For example, imagine a fictional corporation called Scatterholt with user logins for hundreds of thousands of consumers. If attackers breach Scatterholt and access the identity and access management system, they could steal these credentials and leak them onto the dark web.

Scatterholt could force a password reset for all users, but it’s likely that many users have reused the same password across other services. This leak gives threat actors the opportunity to use brute force techniques to gain access to other applications that share the same password.

Defending Against Tier 1 Leaked Credentials

Organizations can employ several well-researched defenses to reduce risk. First and foremost: monitor a leaked credentials database for corporate employee emails. This single action can make a massive difference as threat actors deliberately target passwords associated with corporate email addresses to facilitate data breaches.

Secondly, require users to routinely reset passwords on a schedule, ensuring that if a specific password is breached, they will have already rotated other corporate credentials.

Finally, we recommend using a password manager with a policy requiring employees to randomize passwords for various applications and store them securely, reducing the risk of employees making only minor changes to passwords.

The Special Case of Combolists

Combolists are collections of credential pairs, organized by service or geographically, used by cybercriminals in combination with brute force tools to attempt to gain access to various services.

Screenshot of combolist
Screenshot of combolist
Source: IT Services

These credentials often come from previous known breaches, stealer logs, or are entirely fabricated. The exact source is never entirely clear, but the sheer volume of credentials available through combolists, combined with frequent password reuse, makes them a significant attack vector.

Tier 2 Leaked Credentials

Tier 2 leaked credentials pose a unique risk to companies. These credentials are harvested directly from users through infostealer malware that steals all passwords saved in the browser.

We consider tier 2 leaked credentials to be of significantly increased risk to both the company and the user for the following reasons:

  • A single stealer log will contain all of the credentials the user saved in their browser. This creates a perfect opportunity for threat actors to socially engineer the victim, the IT help desk, or even the company using the victim’s information.
  • These logs contain the plain text username, password, and host for the credentials, often for hundreds of different logins. Threat actors have an enormous advantage when they can see dozens of password variations that the user uses.
  • These logs often contain form-fill data with answers to secret questions, which can be effectively used to bypass websites with secret questions.

Screenshot of the information stealer logs can contain, including cookies, passwords, and other sensitive information
Screenshot of the information stealer logs can contain, including cookies, passwords, and other sensitive information
Source: IT Services

Tier 3 Leaked Credentials

This tier of leaks, also from stealer logs, poses an extreme risk to organizations. Fresh stealer logs often contain active session cookies, which threat actors can easily use for session hijacking attacks. In these attacks, they impersonate the victim and potentially bypass two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) controls.

Discovering a fresh stealer log with corporate credentials should immediately prompt an incident investigation, as it’s highly likely that the passwords are working and that threat actors could directly access corporate resources.

Screenshot from Telegram of a malware store
Screenshot from Telegram of a malware store
Source: IT Services

Defending Against Tier 3 Leaked Credentials

Limit the time-to-live (TTL) for corporate applications to reduce the risk of session cookies remaining valid if distributed as a result of an infostealer infection.

Multi-Factor Authentication Isn’t a Silver Bullet

Not monitoring leaked credentials likely means that many of your employees use single-factor authentication, as their passwords may have been exposed. Many people believe that enabling 2FA is sufficient protection against stolen credentials, but the reality is that threat actors are aware of the obstacle 2FA presents and have developed techniques to overcome it.

Whether through social engineering of employees, using 2FA bots to capture one-time codes/passwords from victims, or even SIM-swapping, there are many ways to bypass MFA controls that are actively used in the wild.

The best defense against these types of attacks involves using authenticator apps, which feature temporary rotating codes instead of one-time passwords received via email or SMS. These applications are usually more secure and ensure that the user controls a second device to some extent.

Concerned about Credentials? We Can Help

IT Services monitors more than 14 billion leaked credentials distributed on the dark web and hundreds of millions leaked through infostealer malware.

Our platform sets up in 30 minutes and provides robust detection for leaked employee credentials across hundreds of forums, channels, and marketplaces.

Check out our free trial.

Sponsored and written by IT Services.

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Massive Ohio Lottery Ransomware Attack: Shocking Impact on Over 538,000 Individuals

The Ohio Lottery experienced a ransomware attack, compromising the personal information of over 538,000 individuals. The cybercriminals behind the attack demanded a ransom of 50 bitcoin, which the Lottery refused to pay. The affected data includes names, addresses, social security numbers, and birth dates of past winners and employees.



Imagine waking up on Christmas Eve to find out that your personal information has been compromised in a cyberattack. That’s precisely what happened to over 538,000 individuals when the Ohio Lottery experienced a data breach on December 24, 2023.

In a filing with the Office of Maine’s Attorney General, it was revealed that the attackers gained access to names, Social Security numbers, and other personal identifiers. Thankfully, the Ohio Lottery assured that the gaming network was not affected by the incident.

Even though no evidence of fraud using the stolen information was found, the Ohio Lottery provided free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to all potentially impacted individuals, just to be on the safe side.

DragonForce Ransomware Gang Claims Responsibility

While the Ohio Lottery didn’t disclose the nature of the incident, the DragonForce ransomware gang claimed responsibility for the attack a few days later. The group stated that they encrypted devices and stole documents belonging to both customers and employees of the Ohio Lottery.

On December 27, the ransomware group mentioned on their dark web leak site that they had stolen over 3 million records. After negotiations failed, the gang leaked four .bak archives and multiple CSV files on January 22, allegedly taken from the Ohio Lottery’s systems.

According to DragonForce, the 94 GB of leaked data contains 1.5 million records with Ohio Lottery clients’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth.

DragonForce ransomware seems to be a relatively new operation, having exposed its first victim in December 2023. However, their tactics, negotiation style, and data leak site suggest that they are an experienced extortion group. With nearly four dozen victims listed on their leak site and law enforcement disrupting many ransomware operations recently, it’s possible that this group is a rebrand of a previously known gang.

DragonForce ransomware also claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that impacted Japanese probiotic beverage manufacturer Yakult’s IT systems in Australia and New Zealand in mid-December. Yakult disclosed the attack after the ransomware gang leaked what it claimed to be 95 GB of data stolen from the company’s compromised servers.

Don’t Let This Happen to You

Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated, and the stakes are higher than ever. With personal information at risk, it’s crucial to stay informed and take proactive steps to protect yourself and your data.

We’re here to help. Our IT Services can assist you in staying up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity threats, providing guidance on how to safeguard your information and helping you navigate the ever-changing digital landscape.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you stay secure in this increasingly interconnected world. And don’t forget to keep coming back for the latest cybersecurity news and updates.

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Dell Sounds Alarm on Massive Data Breach: 49 Million Customers Potentially Impacted

Dell has warned 49 million customers of a potential data breach as unauthorized individuals attempted to extract customer data from its network. The company has reset all affected users’ passwords and is urging them to stay vigilant for any suspicious activity.



Did you know that Dell recently experienced a data breach? A threat actor claimed to have stolen information for approximately 49 million customers. As a result, Dell started sending out data breach notifications to customers, informing them that a Dell portal containing customer information related to purchases was breached.

Now, you might be wondering, what kind of information was accessed during this breach? Well, according to Dell, the following information was compromised:

  • Name
  • Physical address
  • Dell hardware and order information, including service tag, item description, date of order, and related warranty information

Fortunately, the stolen information does not include financial or payment information, email addresses, or telephone numbers. Dell is currently working with law enforcement and a third-party forensics firm to investigate the incident.

How did this happen?

As reported by Daily Dark Web, a threat actor named Menelik tried to sell a Dell database on the Breach Forums hacking forum on April 28th. The threat actor claimed to have stolen data from Dell for “49 million customers and other information systems purchased from Dell between 2017-2024.” While we haven’t been able to confirm if this is the same data that Dell disclosed, it matches the information listed in the data breach notification.

The post on Breach Forums has since been deleted, which could indicate that another threat actor purchased the database.

What does this mean for Dell customers?

Although Dell doesn’t believe there is significant risk to its customers given the type of information involved, the stolen information could potentially be used in targeted attacks against Dell customers. Without email addresses, threat actors might resort to targeting specific people with physical mailings containing phishing links or media (DVDs/thumb drives) to install malware on targets’ devices.

Think this sounds far-fetched? Well, similar attacks have happened in the past. For instance, tampered Ledger hardware wallets were physically mailed, which then stole cryptocurrency, or gifts with USB drives were sent that installed malware.

Since the database is no longer being sold, there’s a good chance a threat actor is trying to monetize it in some way through attacks. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Stay vigilant and be cautious

Be wary of any physical mailings or emails you receive that claim to be from Dell, asking you to install software, change passwords, or perform some other potentially risky action. If you receive any suspicious communication, contact Dell directly to confirm its legitimacy.

Remember, knowledge is power, and staying informed about cybersecurity threats is essential to protecting yourself and your information. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and resources on cybersecurity, and keep coming back to learn more.

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800K Users Compromised: The Alarming 2023 MOVEit Cyberattack Unleashed

Learn how the University System of Georgia suffered a massive data breach in 2023, exposing the personal information of over 800,000 individuals. Discover the role of the Moveit attack and its impact on cybersecurity in the education sector. Stay informed on the latest data protection measures to keep your information safe.



Image: Georgia Institute of Technology Tech Tower (RobRainer)

Imagine waking up one day to find out your personal information, including your Social Security number and bank account details, has been stolen by cybercriminals. This is what happened to 800,000 individuals when the University System of Georgia (USG) fell victim to the notorious Clop ransomware gang in 2023.

USG, a state government agency responsible for operating 26 public colleges and universities in Georgia, was among the first to be compromised in a massive worldwide data theft campaign conducted by the Clop gang. They exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the Progress Software MOVEit Secure File Transfer solution, impacting thousands of organizations around the globe.

How the breach unfolded

With the help of the FBI and CISA, USG eventually determined that sensitive files had been stolen from its systems. Almost a year later, they began notifying the impacted individuals, revealing that the cybercriminals accessed the following information:

  • Full or partial (last four digits) of Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Bank account number(s)
  • Federal income tax documents with Tax ID number

Considering the type of information exposed and the fact that the number of impacted individuals is larger than the number of students under USG, it’s likely that prior students, academic staff, contractors, and other personnel were also affected.

USG submitted a sample of the data breach notice to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, stating that the data breach impacts 800,000 people. Interestingly, the entry on Maine’s portal also lists driver’s license numbers or identification card numbers as exposed data types, although these are not mentioned in the notice.

What’s being done to help the victims?

To help those affected, USG is now offering 12 months of identity protection and fraud detection services through Experian. Impacted individuals have until July 31, 2024, to enroll in these services.

Unfortunately, the MOVEit attacks by Clop were one of the most successful and prolific extortion operations in recent history. Over a year after the attacks took place, organizations are still discovering, confirming, and disclosing breaches, extending the aftermath of the cyber-attacks.

Emsisoft’s dedicated counter of MOVEit victims lists 2,771 impacted organizations and nearly 95 million individuals whose personal data now resides in Clop’s servers. Some of that data was published on Clop’s extortion portal on the dark web, some were sold to other cybercrime groups, and some remain to be monetized in the future.

What can you do to protect yourself?

This data breach serves as a stark reminder of the importance of cybersecurity and vigilance in our increasingly digital world. Organizations and individuals must prioritize cybersecurity measures, such as using strong, unique passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and regularly updating software and systems.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your organization from cyber threats, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team at IT Services is dedicated to helping you stay safe in this ever-evolving digital landscape. Keep checking back for more insights and advice on cybersecurity!

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