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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

Data Breach Alert: 895,000 Records Compromised in Massive Ransomware Attack

Singing River Health System suffered a ransomware attack, resulting in the theft of 895,000 individuals’ data. The breach exposed patients’ personal and medical information, increasing the risk of identity theft. Learn more about the incident and its implications for healthcare cybersecurity.

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Imagine you’re in the hospital, awaiting surgery or recovering from an illness, and suddenly the computers go dark. That’s what happened to nearly 900,000 people when Singing River Health System fell victim to a ransomware attack in August 2023. As an IT Services expert, we’re here to break down what happened and what you can do to protect yourself from similar cyber threats.

The Attack on Singing River Health System

Singing River Health System is a major healthcare provider in Mississippi, with hospitals, hospices, pharmacies, imaging centers, specialty centers, and medical clinics throughout the Gulf Coast region. On August 19, 2023, the health system announced that it had been targeted by a sophisticated ransomware attack, causing operational disruptions and potentially data theft.

Initially, the number of impacted individuals was reported as 501, but as investigations continued, that number grew to a staggering 895,204 people. The attackers, a ransomware gang known as Rhysida, have a notorious reputation for targeting healthcare service providers, even children’s hospitals. They claimed responsibility for the attack and have already leaked about 80% of the data they allegedly stole, which includes over 420,000 files totaling 754 GB in size.

What Data Was Exposed?

According to Singing River’s latest update, the exposed data includes:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Physical address
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Medical information
  • Health information

Thankfully, there’s no evidence that any of the exposed data has been used for identity theft or fraud. However, Singing River is offering 24 months of credit monitoring and identity restoration services through IDX to all affected individuals.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

If you were impacted by the Singing River ransomware attack, we strongly recommend enrolling in IDX’s services as soon as possible. Additionally, take these precautions:

  • Treat unsolicited communications with caution
  • Monitor all accounts for suspicious activity
  • Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report

Remember, cyber threats are constantly evolving, and it’s essential to stay informed and proactive.

Stay Safe and Informed with IT Services

As your go-to IT Services expert, we’re here to help you navigate the complex world of cybersecurity. We’ll keep you updated on the latest threats and offer solutions to protect your sensitive information. So, whether you’re a healthcare provider, a small business owner, or just a concerned individual, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.

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Malware

Helsinki Hit by Data Breach: Hackers Exploit Unpatched Vulnerability

Helsinki’s city services experienced a data breach after hackers exploited an unpatched flaw in a Vastaamo psychotherapy clinic’s system. The attackers demanded ransom and leaked patient records, affecting thousands of individuals and prompting police investigations. Ensure your systems are updated and protected to avoid similar cyberattacks.

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Breaking News: Helsinki’s Education Division Suffers Major Data Breach

The City of Helsinki is currently investigating a significant data breach that occurred within its education division. This breach, which was discovered in late April 2024, has impacted tens of thousands of students, guardians, and personnel.

What Happened?

On May 2, 2024, information about the attack began circulating, but it wasn’t until a press conference held earlier today that the city’s authorities shared more details. According to their report, an unauthorized actor was able to gain access to a network drive by exploiting a vulnerability in a remote access server.

Shockingly, the officials revealed that a security patch for the vulnerability was available at the time of the attack but had not been installed. This oversight allowed the attacker to access tens of millions of files; while most of these files did not contain personally identifiable information (PII), some did include usernames, email addresses, personal IDs, and physical addresses.

The Stakes Are High

Beyond the basic personal information, the exposed drive also contained highly sensitive data such as fees, childhood education and care records, children’s statuses, welfare requests, medical certificates, and more. Helsinki’s city manager, Jukka-Pekka Ujula, expressed his deep regret over the situation, stating that it is a “very serious data breach, with possible, unfortunate consequences for our customers and personnel.” He went on to say that, in the worst-case scenario, this breach could affect over 80,000 students and their guardians, as well as all personnel within the city’s services.

What’s Being Done?

Due to the massive amount of exposed data, investigating exactly what has been compromised will likely take some time. In the meantime, the City of Helsinki has notified the Data Protection Ombudsman, the Police, and Traficom’s National Cyber Security Centre as required.

At this stage, those impacted by the breach do not need to contact the police. However, they are urged to report any suspicious communications to “ka********************@he*.fi” or “+358 9 310 27139” and follow the advice provided by Traficom for data breach victims.

Who’s Behind the Attack?

As of the time of writing this, no ransomware groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, leaving the identity of the perpetrators unknown. This serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks and the importance of maintaining strong cybersecurity measures.

Stay Informed and Stay Safe

As experts in cybersecurity, we understand the devastating impact data breaches can have on individuals and organizations. We encourage you to contact us to stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity news and trends. Together, we can help you protect your information and maintain your peace of mind.

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Malware

Australia’s Top Non-Bank Lender Issues Dire Warning of Massive Data Breach

Australian non-bank lender Firstmac has warned customers of a potential data breach. The mortgage provider discovered unauthorized access to its client relationship management system. Firstmac urged clients to remain vigilant and monitor their accounts, while assuring that no financial data was compromised. The company is working with cybersecurity experts to investigate the incident.

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Firstmac Limited, a major player in Australia’s financial services industry, recently experienced a data breach. Just one day after the new Embargo cyber-extortion group claimed to have stolen over 500GB of data from the company, Firstmac began warning customers of the incident.

With a focus on mortgage lending, investment management, and securitization services, Firstmac is headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland. The company has issued 100,000 home loans and currently manages $15 billion in mortgages, employing 460 people.

Recently, we came across a sample of the notification letter sent to Firstmac customers, which detailed the severity of the data breach.

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The letter explained that an unauthorized third party accessed part of Firstmac’s IT system. Upon detecting the incident, the company immediately took steps to secure their system.

Following an investigation conducted with the help of external cybersecurity experts, Firstmac confirmed that the following information was compromised:

  • Full name
  • Residential address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • External bank account information
  • Driver’s license number

Despite the breach, Firstmac assured customers that their accounts and funds remain secure, and the company has since strengthened its systems.

Among the security measures introduced is a new requirement for all account changes to confirm the user’s identity using two-factor authentication or biometrics. Customers who received the notice are also provided with free identity theft protection services through IDCare and are advised to remain cautious with unsolicited communications and regularly check their account statements for unusual activity.

New Embargo gang claimed the attack

Australian news outlets reported about the attack on Firstmac in late April after the Embargo extortion group announced it on its data leak site.

On Thursday, Embargo leaked all data they claimed to have stolen from Firstmac’s systems, including documents, source code, email addresses, phone numbers, and database backups.

Embargo leak
Embargo leak of Firstmac data
Source: IT Services

The new threat group currently only lists two victims on its extortion page, and it’s unclear whether they committed the breaches themselves or bought the stolen data from others to blackmail the owners.

Samples of Embargo encryptors have yet to be found, so it’s unknown if they are a ransomware group or simply focus on extortion.

As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, it’s crucial to stay informed and vigilant. We encourage you to keep coming back to learn more about the latest developments in cybersecurity and how you can better protect your personal information. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any concerns or questions regarding your own cybersecurity needs.

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