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Malware

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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Malware

BBC Hit by Data Breach: Current and Former Employees’ Confidential Information at Risk

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has suffered a data breach affecting current and former employees. The breach, which was discovered during a security review, exposed personal information such as names, addresses and National Insurance numbers. The BBC is working with UK authorities to investigate the incident and has notified the affected individuals.

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Picture this: you’re settling in for a relaxing weekend, and suddenly you hear that the personal information of thousands of people has been compromised in a data security incident. Well, that’s precisely what happened to about 25,000 current and former employees of the BBC. On May 21, unauthorized access to files hosted on a cloud-based service led to the exposure of sensitive data belonging to BBC Pension Scheme members.

What Did the Hackers Get?

Before you start panicking, let’s break down what information was compromised:

  • Full names
  • National Insurance numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Sex
  • Home addresses

Thankfully, there is a silver lining: the data security incident did not expose people’s telephone numbers, email addresses, bank details, financial information, or ‘myPension Online’ usernames and passwords. And, more good news, the pension scheme portal is still safe to use.

What Happens Now?

The BBC has notified the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Pensions Regulator about the incident. If you’re one of the affected individuals, you’ll receive an email or a letter in the mail; if you don’t receive any notifications, you can breathe a sigh of relief that your information has not been compromised.

Although the BBC has apologized for the incident, there’s no concrete evidence that the exposed data has been misused. However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and cautious about any unsolicited and unexpected communications that request your personal information or prompt you to take unexpected actions.

For more information on what those impacted should do, visit the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) webpage.

Lessons Learned

As an IT Services expert, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of data and cybersecurity. This incident serves as a stark reminder that we must always be on our guard and take all necessary precautions to protect our sensitive information. So, what can you do to safeguard your data?

  • Enable two-factor authentication on your accounts
  • Monitor your credit and web presence using services like Experian
  • Stay informed on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices

Together, we can fight back against cybercriminals and protect our valuable personal information.

Stay Informed and Stay Safe

Here at IT Services, we’re committed to helping you stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Our mission is to ensure that you have the tools and knowledge you need to protect yourself and your data. So don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice, and keep coming back for more insights on how to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

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Malware

Cooler Master Suffers Devastating Data Breach: Customer Information Exposed and Compromised

Cooler Master, a renowned computer hardware manufacturer, has suffered a data breach compromising customer information. The breach, discovered on August 12, exposed names, email addresses, and phone numbers, but not financial data. Cooler Master is urging users to be cautious of phishing attempts and change their passwords immediately.

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Imagine you’re a fan of a popular computer hardware manufacturer, let’s call them Cooler Master, and you’ve just learned that your personal information has been compromised in a data breach. That’s right, a cybercriminal managed to sneak into the company’s website and make off with the Fanzone member information of 500,000 customers.

For those who may not know, Cooler Master is a well-known hardware manufacturer based in Taiwan that produces computer cases, cooling devices, gaming chairs, and other computer peripherals. You might even have some of their products in your own setup.

How the breach happened

Recently, a mysterious individual going by the alias “Ghostr” contacted us to claim that they had stolen 103 GB of data from Cooler Master on May 18th, 2024. “This data breach included cooler master corporate, vendor, sales, warranty, inventory and hr data as well as over 500,000 of their fanzone members personal information, including name, address, date of birth, phone, email + plain unencrypted credit card information containing name, credit card number, expiry and 3 digits cc code,” the threat actor told us.

The Fanzone site is where customers go to register product warranties, submit return merchandise authorization (RMA) requests, contact support, and sign up for news updates. According to Ghostr, they were able to breach one of Cooler Master’s front-facing websites, which allowed them access to a treasure trove of databases, including the one containing Fanzone member information.

Ghostr also mentioned that they tried to contact Cooler Master for payment in exchange for not leaking or selling the stolen data, but the company didn’t respond to their demands.

Evidence of the stolen data

As proof of their claims, Ghostr provided a link to a small sample of the stolen data, which appears to have been exported from Cooler Master’s Fanzone site. The files contain a wide variety of data, including product, vendor, customer, and employee information. One of the files even has around 1,000 records of what seems to be recent customer support tickets and RMA requests, complete with customers’ names, email addresses, dates of birth, physical addresses, phone numbers, and IP addresses.

We took it upon ourselves to verify the authenticity of the data by reaching out to several Cooler Master customers listed in the file. Many of them confirmed that the information was accurate and that they had indeed opened an RMA or support ticket on the date specified in the leaked sample. However, we couldn’t find any evidence in the files to support Ghostr’s claim that credit card information was also stolen.

As for the fate of the stolen data, Ghostr has stated their intention to sell it in the future, though they have yet to decide on a price. We tried to get in touch with Cooler Master to discuss the breach but received no response to our emails.

What you can do to protect yourself

Cybersecurity is a growing concern for everyone, and data breaches like this one are becoming all too common. It’s crucial to stay informed and take steps to protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. If you think you might be affected by this breach or if you’re concerned about your cybersecurity in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support and resources. And remember, knowledge is power, so keep coming back to learn more about the latest threats and how to stay safe online.

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Malware

First American’s December Data Breach Impacts 44,000: A Shocking Revelation

Discover over 44,000 individuals affected by the First American Financial Corp data breach in December 2021, exposing sensitive personal and financial information. Learn more about the incident, the company’s response, and measures taken to prevent future breaches. Stay informed on cybersecurity threats and protect your data.

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‚ÄčThe second-largest title insurance company in the United States, First American Financial Corporation, recently disclosed that a cyberattack in December resulted in a breach affecting 44,000 individuals. Established in 1889, this California-based company provides financial and settlement services to real estate professionals, home buyers, and sellers. With over 21,000 employees, it reported total revenue of $6 billion last year.

Following the cyberattack, First American was forced to take some of its systems offline to contain the damage. It wasn’t until five months later that they disclosed the extent of the breach in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The investigation found that the attackers gained access to some of its systems and managed to access sensitive data.

First American has concluded its investigation and determined that personal information belonging to approximately 44,000 individuals may have been accessed without authorization. The company plans to notify those potentially affected and offer credit monitoring and identity protection services at no cost to them.

Another breach not too long ago

Just one month before this latest attack, First American had settled a 2019 hack and agreed to pay a $1 million penalty to New York State for violating its cybersecurity regulations. The 2019 breach exposed personal and financial data, which the company stores in its proprietary EaglePro application.

Another title insurance provider in the US, Fidelity National Financial, was also hit by a “cybersecurity incident” in November. Similar to First American, Fidelity National Financial had to take down some of its systems to contain the attack, causing varying levels of disruption to its business operations. In January, the company confirmed in an SEC filing that the attackers stole data from roughly 1.3 million customers using a type of malware that is not self-propagating.

Protect yourself and your business

These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the importance of robust cybersecurity measures for businesses and individuals alike. Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your sensitive information and secure your systems. We at IT Services are here to help you stay informed and safeguard your digital assets.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and keep coming back for the latest news, tips, and insights on cybersecurity. Together, we can build a more secure digital landscape.

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