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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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Experts: Breach at IT Outsourcing Giant Wipro

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Indian information technology (IT) outsourcing and consulting giant Wipro Ltd. [NYSE:WIT] is investigating reports that its own IT systems have been hacked and are being used to launch attacks against some of the company’s customers, multiple sources tell KrebsOnSecurity. Wipro has refused to respond to questions about the alleged incident.

Experts: Breach at IT Outsourcing Giant Wipro 1Earlier this month, KrebsOnSecurity heard independently from two trusted sources that Wipro — India’s third-largest IT outsourcing company — was dealing with a multi-month intrusion from an assumed state-sponsored attacker.

Both sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wipro’s systems were seen being used as jumping-off points for digital fishing expeditions targeting at least a dozen Wipro customer systems.

The security experts said Wipro’s customers traced malicious and suspicious network reconnaissance activity back to partner systems that were communicating directly with Wipro’s network.

On April 9, KrebsOnSecurity reached out to Wipro for comment. That prompted an email on Apr. 10 from Vipin Nair, Wipro’s head of communications. Nair said he was traveling and needed a few days to gather more information before offering an official response.

On Friday, Apr. 12, Nair sent a statement that acknowledged none of the questions Wipro was asked about an alleged security incident involving attacks against its own customers.

“Wipro has a multilayer security system,” the company wrote. “The company has robust internal processes and a system of advanced security technology in place to detect phishing attempts and protect itself from such attacks. We constantly monitor our entire infrastructure at heightened level of alertness to deal with any potential cyber threat.”

Wipro has not responded to multiple additional requests for comment. Since then, two more sources with knowledge of the investigation have come forward to confirm the outlines of the incident described above.

One source familiar with the forensic investigation at a Wipro customer said it appears at least 11 other companies were attacked, as evidenced from file folders found on the intruders’ back-end infrastructure that were named after various Wipro clients. That source declined to name the other clients.

The other source said Wipro is now in the process of building out a new private email network because the intruders were thought to have compromised Wipro’s corporate email system for some time. The source also said Wipro is now telling concerned clients about specific “indicators of compromise,” telltale clues about tactics, tools and procedures used by the bad guys that might signify an attempted or successful intrusion.

Wipro says it has more than 170,000 employees helping clients across six continents with Fortune 500 customers in healthcare, banking, communications and other industries. In March 2018, Wipro said it passed the $8 billion mark in annual IT services revenue.

The apparent breach comes amid shifting fortunes at Wipro. On March 5, the State of Nebraska abruptly canceled a contract with Wipro after spending $6 million with the company. In September 2018, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued a cease-and-desist letter to Wipro, ordering it to stop work on the upgrade to the state’s Medicaid enrollment system, and to vacate its state offices. Wipro is now suing Nebraska, saying its project was on schedule and on budget.

In August 2018, Wipro paid $75 million to settle a lawsuit over a botched SAP implementation that reportedly cost the National Grid US hundreds of millions of dollars to fix.

Another curious, if only coincidental, development: On April 4, 2019, the government of India sold “enemy” shares in Wipro worth approximately $166 million. According to this article in The Business Standard, enemy shares are so called because they were originally held by people who migrated to Pakistan or China and are not Indian citizens any longer.

“A total of 44.4 million shares, which were held by the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, were sold at Rs 259 apiece on the Bombay Stock Exchange,” The Business Standard reported. “The buyers were state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), New India Assurance and General Insurance Corporation. LIC”

Wipro is expected to announce its fourth-quarter earnings report on Tuesday, April 16 (PDF).

Update, April 16, 9:11 a.m. ET: Not sure why it did not share this statement with me, but Wipro just confirmed to the India Times that it discovered an intrusion and has hired an outside security firm to investigate.

Update, April 17, 2:33 p.m. ET: Check out my latest story on the Wipro breach, the latter half of which includes important new updates about the breach investigation.


Experts: Breach at IT Outsourcing Giant Wipro 2

Tags: Wipro data breach

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How Not to Acknowledge a Data Breach

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I’m not a huge fan of stories about stories, or those that explore the ins and outs of reporting a breach. But occasionally I feel obligated to publish such accounts when companies respond to a breach report in such a way that it’s crystal clear they wouldn’t know what to do with a data breach if it bit them in the nose, let alone festered unmolested in some dark corner of their operations.

How Not to Acknowledge a Data Breach 3And yet, here I am again writing the second story this week about a possibly serious security breach at an Indian company that provides IT support and outsourcing for a ridiculous number of major U.S. corporations (spoiler alert: the second half of this story actually contains quite a bit of news about the breach investigation).

On Monday, KrebsOnSecurity broke the news that multiple sources were reporting a cybersecurity breach at Wipro, the third-largest IT services provider in India and a major trusted vendor of IT outsourcing for U.S. companies. The story cited reports from multiple anonymous sources who said Wipro’s trusted networks and systems were being used to launch cyberattacks against the company’s customers.

Wipro asked me to give them several days to investigate the request and formulate a public comment. Three days after I reached out, the quote I ultimately got from them didn’t acknowledge any of the concerns raised by my sources. Nor did the statement even acknowledge a security incident.

Six hours after my story ran saying Wipro was in the throes of responding to a breach, the company was quoted in an Indian daily newspaper acknowledging a phishing incident. The company’s statement claimed its sophisticated systems detected the breach internally and identified the affected employees, and that it had hired an outside digital forensics firm to investigate further.

Less than 24 hours after my story ran, Wipro executives were asked on a quarterly investor conference call to respond to my reporting. Wipro Chief Operating Officer Bhanu Ballapuram told investors that many of the details in my story were in error, and implied that the breach was limited to a few employees who got phished. The matter was characterized as handled, and other journalists on the call moved on to different topics.

At this point, I added a question to the queue on the earnings conference call and was afforded the opportunity to ask Wipro’s executives what portion(s) of my story was inaccurate. A Wipro executive then proceeded to read bits of a written statement about their response to the incident, and the company’s chief operating officer agreed to have a one-on-one call with KrebsOnSecurity to address the stated grievances about my story. Security reporter Graham Cluley was kind enough to record that bit of the call and post it on Twitter.

In the follow-up call with Wipro, Ballapuram took issue with my characterization that the breach had lasted “months,” saying it had only been a matter of weeks since employees at the company had been successfully phished by the attackers. I then asked when the company believed the phishing attacks began, and Ballapuram said he could not confirm the approximate start date of the attacks beyond “weeks.”

Ballapuram also claimed that his corporation was hit by a “zero-day” attack. Actual zero-day vulnerabilities involve somewhat infrequent and quite dangerous weaknesses in software and/or hardware that not even the maker of the product in question understands before the vulnerability is discovered and exploited by attackers for private gain.

Because zero-day flaws usually refer to software that is widely in use, it’s generally considered good form if one experiences such an attack to share any available details with the rest of the world about how the attack appears to work — in much the same way you might hope a sick patient suffering from some unknown, highly infectious disease might nonetheless choose to help doctors diagnose how the infection could have been caught and spread.

Wipro has so far ignored specific questions about the supposed zero-day, other than to say “based on our interim investigation, we have shared the relevant information of the zero-day with our AV [antivirus] provider and they have released the necessary signatures for us.”

My guess is that what Wipro means by “zero-day” is a malicious email attachment that went undetected by all commercial antivirus tools before it infected Wipro employee systems with malware.

Ballapuram added that Wipro has gathered and disseminated to affected clients a set of “indicators of compromise,” telltale clues about tactics, tools and procedures used by the bad guys that might signify an attempted or successful intrusion.

Hours after that call with Ballapuram, I heard from a major U.S. company that is partnering with Wipro (at least for now). The source said his employer opted to sever all online access to Wipro employees within days of discovering that these Wipro accounts were being used to target his company’s operations.

The source said the indicators of compromise that Wipro shared with its customers came from a Wipro customer who was targeted by the attackers, but that Wipro was sending those indicators to customers as if they were something Wipro’s security team had put together on its own.

So let’s recap Wipro’s public response so far:

-Ignore reporter’s questions for days and then pick nits in his story during a public investor conference call.
-Question the stated timing of breach, but refuse to provide an alternative timeline.
-Downplay the severity of the incident and characterize it as handled, even when they’ve only just hired an outside forensics firm.
-Say the intruders deployed a “zero-day attack,” and then refuse to discuss details of said zero-day.
-Claim the IoCs you’re sharing with affected clients were discovered by you when they weren’t.

WHAT DID THE ATTACKERS DO?

The criminals responsible for breaching Wipro appear to be after anything they can turn into cash fairly quickly. A source I spoke with at a large retailer and Wipro customer said the crooks who broke into Wipro used their access to perpetrate gift card fraud at the retailer’s stores.

I suppose that’s something of a silver lining for Wipro at least, if not also its customers: An intruder that was more focused on extracting intellectual property or other more strategic assets from Wipro’s customers probably could have gone undetected for a much longer period.

A source close to the investigation who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the news media said the company hired by Wipro to investigate the breach dated the first phishing attacks back to March 11, when a single employee was phished.

The source said a subsequent phishing campaign between March 16 and 19 netted 22 additional Wipro employees, and that the vendor investigating the incident has so far discovered more than 100 Wipro endpoints that were seeded with ScreenConnect, a legitimate remote access tool sold by Connectwise.com. Investigators believe the intruders were using the ScreenConnect software on the hacked Wipro systems to connect remotely to Wipro client systems, which were then used to leverage further access into Wipro customer networks.

Additionally, investigators found at least one of the compromised endpoints was attacked with Mimikatz, an open source tool that can dump passwords stored in the temporary memory cache of a Microsoft Windows device.

The source also said the vendor is still discovering newly-hacked systems, suggesting that Wipro’s systems are still compromised, and that additional hacked endpoints may still be undiscovered within Wipro.

Wipro has not yet responded to follow-up requests for comment.

I’m sure there are smart, well-meaning and capable people who care about security and happen to work at Wipro, but I’m not convinced any of those individuals are employed in leadership roles at the company. Perhaps Wipro’s actions in the wake of this incident merely reflect the reality that India currently has no laws requiring data owners or processors to notify individuals in the event of a breach.

Overall, I’m willing to chalk this entire episode up to a complete lack of training in how to deal with the news media, but if I were a customer of Wipro I’d be more than a little concerned about the tone-deaf nature of the company’s response thus far.

As one follower on Twitter remarked, “openness and transparency speaks of integrity and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Doing the exact opposite smacks of something else entirely.”

In the interests of openness, here are some indicators of compromise that Wipro customers are distributing about this incident (I had to get these from one of Wipro’s partners as the company declined to share the IoCs directly with KrebsOnSecurity).


How Not to Acknowledge a Data Breach 4

Tags: Bhanu Ballapuram, Wipro data breach

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Wipro Intruders Targeted Other Major IT Firms

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The crooks responsible for launching phishing campaigns that netted dozens of employees and more than 100 computer systems last month at Wipro, India’s third-largest IT outsourcing firm, also appear to have targeted a number of other competing providers, including Infosys and Cognizant, new evidence suggests. The clues so far suggest the work of a fairly experienced crime group that is focused on perpetrating gift card fraud.

On Monday, KrebsOnSecurity broke the news that multiple sources were reporting a cybersecurity breach at Wipro, a major trusted vendor of IT outsourcing for U.S. companies. The story cited reports from multiple anonymous sources who said Wipro’s trusted networks and systems were being used to launch cyberattacks against the company’s customers.

Wipro Intruders Targeted Other Major IT Firms 5

A screen shot of the Wipro phishing site securemail.wipro.com.internal-message[.]app. Image: urlscan.io

In a follow-up story Wednesday on the tone-deaf nature of Wipro’s public response to this incident, KrebsOnSecurity published a list of “indicators of compromise” or IOCs, telltale clues about tactics, tools and procedures used by the bad guys that might signify an attempted or successful intrusion.

If one examines the subdomains tied to just one of the malicious domains mentioned in the IoCs list (internal-message[.]app), one very interesting Internet address is connected to all of them — 185.159.83[.]24. This address is owned by King Servers, a well-known bulletproof hosting company based in Russia.

According to records maintained by Farsight Security, that address is home to a number of other likely phishing domains:

securemail.pcm.com.internal-message[.]app
secure.wipro.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.wipro.com.internal-message[.]app
secure.elavon.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.slalom.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.avanade.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.infosys.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.searshc.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.capgemini.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.cognizant.com.internal-message[.]app
secure.rackspace.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.virginpulse.com.internal-message[.]app
secure.expediagroup.com.internal-message[.]app
securemail.greendotcorp.com.internal-message[.]app
secure.bridge2solutions.com.internal-message[.]app
ns1.internal-message[.]app
ns2.internal-message[.]app
mail.internal-message[.]app
ns3.microsoftonline-secure-login[.]com
ns4.microsoftonline-secure-login[.]com
tashabsolutions[.]xyz
www.tashabsolutions[.]xyz

The subdomains listed above suggest the attackers may also have targeted American retailer Sears; Green Dot, the world’s largest prepaid card vendor; payment processing firm Elavon; hosting firm Rackspace; business consulting firm Avanade; IT provider PCM; and French consulting firm Capgemini, among others. KrebsOnSecurity has reached out to all of these companies for comment, and will update this story in the event any of them respond with relevant information.

WHAT ARE THEY AFTER?

It appears the attackers in this case are targeting companies that in one form or another have access to either a ton of third-party company resources, and/or companies that can be abused to conduct gift card fraud.

Wednesday’s follow-up on the Wipro breach quoted an anonymous source close to the investigation saying the criminals responsible for breaching Wipro appear to be after anything they can turn into cash fairly quickly. That source, who works for a large U.S. retailer, said the crooks who broke into Wipro used their access to perpetrate gift card fraud at the retailer’s stores.

Another source said the investigation into the Wipro breach by a third party company has determined so far the intruders compromised more than 100 Wipro systems  and installed on each of them ScreenConnect, a legitimate remote access tool. Investigators believe the intruders were using the ScreenConnect software on the hacked Wipro systems to connect remotely to Wipro client systems, which were then used to leverage further access into Wipro customer networks.

This is remarkably similar to activity that was directed against a U.S. based company in 2016 and 2017. In May 2018, Maritz Holdings Inc., a Missouri-based firm that handles customer loyalty and gift card programs for third-parties, sued Cognizant (PDF), saying a forensic investigation determined that hackers used Cognizant’s resources in an attack on Maritz’s loyalty program that netted the attackers more than $11 million in fraudulent eGift cards.

That investigation determined the attackers also used ScreenConnect to access computers belonging to Maritz employees. “This was the same tool that was used to effectuate the cyber-attack in Spring 2016. Intersec [the forensic investigator] also determined that the attackers had run searches on the Maritz system for certain words and phrases connected to the Spring 2016 attack.”

According to the lawsuit by Maritz Holdings, investigators also determined that the “attackers were accessing the Maritz system using accounts registered to Cognizant. For example, in April 2017, someone using a Cognizant account utilized the “fiddler” hacking program to circumvent cyber protections that Maritz had installed several weeks earlier.”

Maritz said its forensic investigator found the attackers had run searches on the Maritz system for certain words and phrases connected to the Spring 2016 eGift card cashout. Likewise, my retailer source in the Wipro attack told KrebsOnSecurity that the attackers who defrauded them also searched their systems for specific phrases related to gift cards, and for clues about security systems the retailer was using.

It’s unclear if the work of these criminal hackers is tied to a specific, known threat group. But it seems likely that the crooks who hit Wipro have been targeting similar companies for some time now, and with a fair degree of success in translating their access to cash given the statements by my sources in the Wipro breach and this lawsuit against Cognizant.

What’s remarkable is how many antivirus companies still aren’t flagging as malicious many of the Internet addresses and domains listed in the IoCs, as evidenced by a search at virustotal.com.

Update, April 19, 11:25 a.m. ET: I heard back from some of the other targets. Avanade shared the following statement:

“Avanade was a target of the multi-company security incident, involving 34 of our people in February. Through our cyber incident response efforts and technologies, we swiftly contained and remediated the situation. As a result, there was no impact to our client portfolio or sensitive company data. Our review has concluded this was isolated incident. Our security defenses have continued to protect against any potential threat related to this matter. And, we continue take our responsibility to safeguard our clients’ data with the utmost seriousness.”

Cognizant replied:

“We are aware of reports that our company was among many other service providers and businesses whose email systems were targeted in an apparent criminal hacking scheme related to gift card fraud. Since the criminal activity first surfaced earlier this week and following reports that another service provider’s email system was allegedly compromised, Cognizant’s security experts took immediate and appropriate actions including initiating a review.”

“While our review remains ongoing, we have seen no indication to date that any client data was compromised. It is not unusual for a large company like Cognizant to be the target of spear phishing attempts such as this. The integrity of our systems and our clients’ systems is of paramount importance to Cognizant. We continuously monitor, update and strengthen our systems against unauthorized access and have put additional protocols in place related to this specific industry-wide incident.”

Infosys said it has not observed any breach of its network based on its monitoring and threat intelligence. “This has been ascertained through a thorough analysis of the indicators of compromise that we received from our threat intelligence partners,” the company said in a statement.

Rackspace said it has no evidence to indicate that there has been impact to the Rackspace environment: “Rackspace Security Operations continuously monitors our environment for threats and takes appropriate action should an issue be identified.”

Capgemini said its internal Security Operation Center (SOC) detected and monitored suspicious activity that showed similar patterns to the attack faced by WIPRO. “This occurred between March 4 and March 19. The activity concentrated on a very limited number of laptops and servers. Immediate remedial action took place. There has been no impact on us, nor on our clients to date.”

Slalom, another company listed above, said it can “confirm that phishing attack activity was detected and prevented between March 4 and March 19, which correlates to the information that you have published on the Wipro event.  A combination of 24×7 Security Operations Center advanced security monitoring, security awareness training and threat intelligence automation enabled us to detect, alert, and prevent an event, sourcing from the phishing attacks.  We have verified this through internal forensics and with the support of our threat intelligence partners.”


Wipro Intruders Targeted Other Major IT Firms 6

Tags: Avanade, Capgemini, Elavon, Green Dot, King Servers, Maritz Holdings Inc., PCM, Rackspace, ScreenConnect, Sears, Virustotal.com, Wipro data breach

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Marcus “MalwareTech” Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware

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Marcus Hutchins, a 24-year-old blogger and malware researcher arrested in 2017 for allegedly authoring and selling malware designed to steal online banking credentials, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy and to making, selling or advertising illegal wiretapping devices.

Marcus “MalwareTech” Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware 7

Marcus Hutchins, just after he was revealed as the security expert who stopped the WannaCry worm. Image: twitter.com/malwaretechblog

Hutchins, who authors the popular blog MalwareTech, was virtually unknown to most in the security community until May 2017 when the U.K. media revealed him as the “accidental hero” who inadvertently halted the global spread of WannaCry, a ransomware contagion that had taken the world by storm just days before.

In August 2017, Hutchins was arrested by FBI agents in Las Vegas on suspicion of authoring and/or selling “Kronos,” a strain of malware designed to steal online banking credentials. A British citizen, Hutchins has been barred from leaving the United States since his arrest.

Many of Hutchins’ supporters and readers had trouble believing the charges against him, and in response KrebsOnSecurity published a lengthy investigation into activities tied to his various online personas over the years.

As I wrote in summary of that story, the clues suggested “Hutchins began developing and selling malware in his mid-teens — only to later develop a change of heart and earnestly endeavor to leave that part of his life squarely in the rearview mirror.” Nevertheless, there were a number of indications that Hutchins’ alleged malware activity continued into his adulthood.

In a statement posted to his Twitter feed and to malwaretech.com, Hutchins said today he had pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware in the years prior to his career in security.

“I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes,” Hutchins wrote. “Having grown up, I’ve since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.”

Hutchins pleaded guilty to two of the 10 counts for which he was originally accused, including conspiracy charges and violating U.S.C. Title 18, Section 2512, which involves the manufacture, distribution, possession and advertising of devices for intercepting online communications.

Creating malware is a form of protected speech in the United States, but selling it and disseminating it is another matter. University of Southern California law professor Orin Kerr‘s 2017 dissection of the government’s charges is worth a read for a deep dive on this sticky legal issue.

According to a copy of Hutchins’ plea agreement, both charges each carry a maximum of up to five years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to one year of supervised release. However, those charges are likely to be substantially tempered by federal sentencing guidelines, and may take into account time already served in detention. It remains unclear when he will be sentenced.

The plea agreement is here (PDF). “Attachment A” beginning on page 15 outlines the government’s case against Hutchins and an alleged co-conspirator. The government says between July 2012 and Sept. 2015, Hutchins helped create and sell Kronos and a related piece of malware called UPAS Kit.

Despite what many readers here have alleged, I hold no ill will against Hutchins. He and I spoke briefly in a friendly exchange after a chance encounter at last year’s DEF CON security conference in Las Vegas, and I said at the time I was rooting for him to beat the charges. I sincerely hope he is able to keep his nose clean and put this incident behind him soon.

Marcus “MalwareTech” Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware 8

Yours Truly shaking hands with Marcus Hutchins in Las Vegas, August 2018.


Marcus “MalwareTech” Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware 9

Tags: Kronos banking malware, Malwaretech, Marcus Hutchins

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Who’s Behind the RevCode WebMonitor RAT?

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The owner of a Swedish company behind a popular remote administration tool (RAT) implicated in thousands of malware attacks shares the same name as a Swedish man who pleaded guilty in 2015 to co-creating the Blackshades RAT, a similar product that was used to infect more than half a million computers with malware, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

Who’s Behind the RevCode WebMonitor RAT? 10

An advertisement for RevCode WebMonitor.

At issue is a program called “WebMonitor,” which was designed to allow users to remotely control a computer (or multiple machines) via a Web browser. The makers of WebMonitor, a company in Sweden called “RevCode,” say their product is legal and legitimate software “that helps firms and personal users handle the security of owned devices.”

But critics say WebMonitor is far more likely to be deployed on “pwned” devices, or those that are surreptitiously hacked. The software is broadly classified as malware by most antivirus companies, likely thanks to an advertised feature list that includes dumping the remote computer’s temporary memory; retrieving passwords from dozens of email programs; snarfing the target’s Wi-Fi credentials; and viewing the target’s Webcam.

In a writeup on WebMonitor published in April 2018, researchers from security firm Palo Alto Networks noted that the product has been primarily advertised on underground hacking forums, and that its developers promoted several qualities of the software likely to appeal to cybercriminals looking to secretly compromise PCs.

For example, RevCode’s website touted the software’s compatibility with all “crypters,” software that can encrypt, obfuscate and manipulate malware to make it harder to detect by antivirus programs. Palo Alto also noted WebMonitor includes the option to suppress any notification boxes that may pop up when the RAT is being installed on a computer.

Who’s Behind the RevCode WebMonitor RAT? 11

A screenshot of the WebMonitor builder panel.

RevCode maintains it is a legitimate company officially registered in Sweden that obeys all applicable Swedish laws. A few hours of searching online turned up an interesting record at Ratsit AB, a credit information service based in Sweden. That record indicates RevCode is owned by 28-year-old Swedish resident Alex Yücel.

In February 2015, a then 24-year-old Alex Yücel pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to computer hacking and to creating, marketing and selling Blackshades, a RAT that was used to compromise and spy on hundreds of thousands of computers. Arrested in Moldova in 2013 as part of a large-scale, international takedown against Blackshades and hundreds of customers, Yücel became the first person ever to be extradited from Moldova to the United States.

Yücel was sentenced to 57 months in prison, but according to a record for Yücel at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, he was released on Nov. 1, 2016. The first advertisements in hacker forums for the sale of WebMonitor began in mid-2017. RevCode was registered as an official Swedish company in 2018, according to Ratsit.

Until recently, RevCode published on its Web site a value added tax (VAT) number, an identifier used in many European countries for value added tax purposes. That VAT number — first noted by the blog Krabsonsecurity.com (which borrows heavily from this site’s design and banner but otherwise bears no relation to KrebsOnSecurity.com) — has since been removed from the RevCode Web site and from historic records at The Internet Archive. The VAT number cited in that report is registered to Alex Yücel, and matches the number listed for RevCode by Ratsit AB.

Yücel could not be immediately reached for comment. But an unnamed person responded to an email sent to the customer support address listed at RevCode’s site. Presented with the information and links referenced above, the person responding wrote, “nobody working for/with RevCode is in any way related to BlackShades. Anything else suggesting otherwise is nothing but rumors and attempts to degrade our company by means of defamation.”

The person responding from the RevCode support email address contended that the Alex Yücel listed as owner of the company was not the same Alex Yücel convicted of co-authoring Blackshades. However, unless the Ratsit record is completely wrong, this seems unlikely to be true.

According to the Ratsit listing, the Alex Yücel who heads RevCode currently lives in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden with his parents Can and Rita Yücel. Both Can and Rita Yücel co-signed a letter (PDF) in June 2015 testifying to a New York federal court regarding their son’s upstanding moral character prior to Yücel the younger’s sentencing for the Blackshades conviction, according to court records.

Who’s Behind the RevCode WebMonitor RAT? 12

A letter from Alex Yücel’s parents to the court in June 2016.


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Tags: Alex Yücel, Blackshades RAT, Krabsonsecurity, Ratsit AB, RevCode, WebMonitor, WebMonitor RAT

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Canadian Police Raid ‘Orcus RAT’ Author

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Canadian police last week raided the residence of a Toronto software developer behind “Orcus RAT,” a product that’s been marketed on underground forums and used in countless malware attacks since its creation in 2015. Its author maintains Orcus is a legitimate Remote Administration Tool that is merely being abused, but security experts say it includes multiple features more typically seen in malware known as a Remote Access Trojan.

Canadian Police Raid ‘Orcus RAT’ Author 14

An advertisement for Orcus RAT.

As first detailed by KrebsOnSecurity in July 2016, Orcus is the brainchild of John “Armada” Rezvesz, a Toronto resident who until recently maintained and sold the RAT under the company name Orcus Technologies.

In an “official press release” posted to pastebin.com on Mar. 31, 2019, Rezvesz said his company recently was the subject of an international search warrant executed jointly by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

“In this process authorities seized numerous backup hard drives [containing] a large portion of Orcus Technologies business, and practices,” Rezvesz wrote. “Data inclusive on these drives include but are not limited to: User information inclusive of user names, real names, financial transactions, and further. The arrests and searches expand to an international investigation at this point, including countries as America, Germany, Australia, Canada and potentially more.”

Reached via email, Rezvesz declined to say whether he was arrested in connection with the search warrant, a copy of which he shared with KrebsOnSecurity. In response to an inquiry from this office, the RCMP stopped short of naming names, but said “we can confirm that our National Division Cybercrime Investigative Team did execute a search warrant at a Toronto location last week.”

The RCMP said the raid was part of an international coordinated effort with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Australian Federal Police, as part of “a series of ongoing, parallel investigations into Remote Access Trojan (RAT) technology. This type of malicious software (malware) enables remote access to Canadian computers, without their users’ consent and can lead to the subsequent installation of other malware and theft of personal information.”

“The CRTC executed a warrant under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and the RCMP National Division executed a search warrant under the Criminal Code respectively,” reads a statement published last week by the Canadian government. “Tips from international private cyber security firms triggered the investigation.”

Rezvesz maintains his software was designed for legitimate use only and for system administrators seeking more powerful, full-featured ways to remotely manage multiple PCs around the globe. He’s also said he’s not responsible for how licensed customers use his products, and that he actively kills software licenses for customers found to be using it for online fraud.

Yet the list of features and plugins advertised for this RAT includes functionality that goes significantly beyond what one might see in a traditional remote administration tool, such as DDoS-for-hire capabilities, and the ability to disable the light indicator on webcams so as not to alert the target that the RAT is active.

“It can also implement a watchdog that restarts the server component or even trigger a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) if the someone tries to kill its process,” wrote researchers at security firm Fortinet in a Dec. 2017 analysis of the RAT. “This makes it harder for targets to remove it from their systems. These are, of course, on top of the obviously ominous features such as password retrieval and key logging that are normally seen in Remote Access Trojans.”

As KrebsOnSecurity noted in 2016, in conjunction with his RAT Rezvesz also sold and marketed a bulletproof “dynamic DNS service” that promised not to keep any records of customer activity.

Rezvesz appears to have a flair for the dramatic, and has periodically emailed this author over the years. Sometimes, the missives were taunting, or vaguely ominous and threatening. Like the time he reached out to say he was hiring a private investigator to find and track me. Still other unbidden communications from Rezvesz were friendly, even helpful with timely news tips.

According to Rezvesz himself, he is no stranger to the Canadian legal system. In June 2018, Rezvesz shared court documents indicating he has been involved in multiple physical assault charges since 2007, including “7 domestic disputes between partners as well as incidents with his parents.”

“I am not your A-typical computer geek, Brian,” he wrote in a 2018 email. “I tend to have a violent nature, and have both Martial arts and Military training. So, I suppose it is really good that I took your article with a grain of salt instead of actually really getting upset.”

Canadian Police Raid ‘Orcus RAT’ Author 15

The sale and marketing of remote administration tools is not illegal in the United States, and indeed there are plenty of such tools sold by legitimate companies to help computer experts remotely administer computers.

However, these tools tend to be viewed by prosecutors as malware and spyware when their proprietors advertise them as hacking devices and provide customer support aimed at helping buyers deploy the RATs stealthily and evade detection by anti-malware programs.

Last year, a 21-year-old Kentucky man pleaded guilty to authoring and distributing a popular hacking tool called “LuminosityLink,” which experts say was used by thousands of customers to gain access to tens of thousands of computers across 78 countries worldwide.

Also in 2018, 27-year-old Arkansas resident Taylor Huddleston was sentenced to three years in jail for making and selling the “NanoCore RAT,” which was being used to spy on webcams and steal passwords from systems running the software.

In many previous law enforcement investigations targeting RAT developers and sellers, investigators also have targeted customers of these products. In 2014, the U.S. Justice Department announced a series of actions against more than 100 people accused of purchasing and using “Blackshades,” a cheap and powerful RAT that the U.S. government said was used to infect more than a half million computers worldwide.

Earlier this year, Rezvesz posted on Twitter that he was making the source code for Orcus RAT publicly available, and focusing his attention on developing a new and improved RAT product.

Meanwhile on Hackforums[.]net — the forum where Orcus was principally advertised and sold — members and customers expressed concern that authorities would soon be visiting Orcus RAT customers, posts that were deleted almost as quickly by the Hackforums administrator.

As if in acknowledgement of that concern, in the Pastebin press release published this week Rezvesz warned people away from using Orcus RAT, and added some choice advice for others who would follow his path.

“Orcus is no longer to be considered safe or secure solution to Remote Administrative needs,” he wrote, pointing to a screenshot of a court order he says came from one of the police investigators, which requires him to abstain from accessing Hackforums or Orcus-related sites. “Please move away from this software without delay. It has been a pleasure getting to know everyone in my time online, and I hope you all can take my words as a life lesson. Stay safe, don’t do stupid shit.”


Canadian Police Raid ‘Orcus RAT’ Author 16

Tags: John Rezvesz, Orcus RAT, RCMP

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Annual Protest Raises $250K to Cure Krebs

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For the second year in a row, denizens of a large German-language online forum have donated more than USD $250,000 to cancer research organizations in protest of a story KrebsOnSecurity published in 2018 that unmasked the creators of Coinhive, a now-defunct cryptocurrency mining service that was massively abused by cybercriminals. Krebs is translated as “cancer” in German.

Annual Protest Raises $250K to Cure Krebs 17

Images posted to the decidedly not-safe-for-work German-language image forum pr0gramm[.]com. Members have posted thousands of thank you receipts from cancer research organizations that benefited from their fight cancer/krebs campaign.

On March 26, 2018, KrebsOnSecurity published Who and What is Coinhive, which showed the founder of Coinhive was the co-creator of the German image hosting and discussion forum pr0gramm[dot]com (not safe for work).  I undertook the research because Coinhive’s code at the time was found on tens of thousands of hacked Web sites, and Coinhive seemed uninterested in curbing widespread abuse of its platform.

Pr0gramm’s top members accused KrebsOnSecurity of violating their privacy, even though all of the research published about them was publicly available online. In protest, the forum’s leaders urged members to donate money to medical research in a bid to find a cure for Krebs (i.e. “cancer”).

All told, thousands of Pr0gramm’s members donated more than USD $250,000 to cancer cure efforts within days of that March 2018 story. This week, the Pr0gramm administrators rallied members to commemorate that successful fundraiser with yet another.

“As announced there will be a donation marathon at anniversary day of Krebsaction,” Pr0gramm’s administrators announced. “Today, March 27th, we’re firing the starting shot for the marathon. Please tag your donation bills properly if they shall be accounted. The official tag is ‘krebsspende.’

According to a running tally on Pr0gramm’s site, this year’s campaign has raised 252,000 euros for cancer research so far, or about USD $284,000. That brings the total that Pr0gramm members have donated to cancer research to more than a half-million dollars.

As a bonus, Coinhive announced last month that it was shutting down, citing a perfect storm of negative circumstances. Coinhive had made structural changes to its systems following my 2018 story so that it would no longer profit from accounts used on hacked Web sites. Perhaps more importantly, the value of the cryptocurrency Coinhive’s code helped to mine dropped precipitously over the past year.


Annual Protest Raises $250K to Cure Krebs 18

Tags: Coinhive, pr0gramm

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Man Behind Fatal ‘Swatting’ Gets 20 Years

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Tyler Barriss, a 26-year-old California man who admitted making a phony emergency call to police in late 2017 that led to the shooting death of an innocent Kansas resident, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Man Behind Fatal ‘Swatting’ Gets 20 Years 19

Tyler Barriss, in an undated selfie.

Barriss has admitted to his role in the Kansas man’s death, as well as to dozens of other non-fatal “swatting” attacks. These dangerous hoaxes involve making false claims to emergency responders about phony hostage situations or bomb threats, with the intention of prompting a heavily-armed police response to the location of the claimed incident.

On Dec. 28, 2017, Barriss placed a call from California to police in Wichita, Kan., claiming that he was a local resident who’d just shot his father and was holding other family members hostage.

When Wichita officers responded to the address given by the caller — 1033 W. McCormick — they shot and killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch, a father of two who had done nothing wrong.

Barriss admitted setting that fatal swatting in motion after getting in the middle of a dispute between two Call of Duty online gamers, 18-year-old Casey Viner from Ohio and Shane Gaskill, 20, from Wichita. Viner and Gaskill are awaiting their own trials in connection with Finch’s death.

Barriss pleaded guilty to making hoax bomb threats in phone calls to the headquarters of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. He also made bomb threat and swatting calls from Los Angeles to emergency numbers in Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Utah, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Florida and Canada.

“I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of ‘swatting’ within the gaming community, as well as in any other context,” said Kansas U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a written statement. “Swatting is just a terrible idea. I also hope that today’s result helps bring some peace to the Finch family and some closure to the Wichita community.”

Many readers have commented here that the officer who fired the shot which killed Andrew Finch should also face prosecution. However, the district attorney for the county that encompasses Wichita decided in April 2018 that the officer will not face charges, and will not be named because he isn’t being charged with a crime.

As the victim of a swatting attack in 2013 and two other attempted swattings, I’m glad to finally see a swatting prosecution that may actually serve as a deterrent to this idiotic and extremely dangerous crime going forward.

But as I’ve observed in previous stories about swatting attacks, it would also be nice if more police forces around the country received additional training on exercising restraint in the use of deadly force, particularly in responding to hostage or bomb threat scenarios that have hallmarks of a swatting hoax.

For example, perpetrators of swatting often call non-emergency numbers at state and local police departments to carry out their crimes precisely because they are not local to the region and cannot reach the target’s police department by calling 911. This is exactly what Tyler Barriss did in the Wichita case and others. Swatters also often use text-to-speech (TTY) services for the hearing impaired to relay hoax swat calls, as was the case with my 2013 swatting.


Man Behind Fatal ‘Swatting’ Gets 20 Years 20

Tags: Andrew Finch, Casey Viner, fatal swatting, Shane Gaskill, SWATting, Tyler Barriss, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister

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A Month After 2 Million Customer Cards Sold Online, Buca di Beppo Parent Admits Breach

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On Feb. 21, 2019, KrebsOnSecurity contacted Italian restaurant chain Buca di Beppo after discovering strong evidence that two million credit and debit card numbers belonging to the company’s customers were being sold in the cybercrime underground. Today, Buca’s parent firm announced it had remediated a 10-month breach of its payment systems at dozens of restaurants, including some locations of its other brands such as Earl of Sandwich and Planet Hollywood.

A Month After 2 Million Customer Cards Sold Online, Buca di Beppo Parent Admits Breach 21

Some 2.1 million+ credit and debit card accounts stolen from dozens of Earl Enterprises restaurant locations went up for sale on a popular carding forum on Feb. 20, 2019.

In a statement posted to its Web site today, Orlando, Fla. based hospitality firm Earl Enterprises said a data breach involving malware installed on its point-of-sale systems allowed cyber thieves to steal card details from customers between May 23, 2018 and March 18, 2019.

Earl Enterprises did not respond to requests for specifics about how many customers total may have been impacted by the 10-month breach. The company’s statement directs concerned customers to an online tool that allows one to look up breached locations by city and state.

According to an analysis of that page, it appears the breach impacts virtually all 67 Buca di Beppo locations in the United States; a handful out of the total 31 Earl of Sandwich locations; and Planet Hollywood locations in Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando. Also impacted were Tequila Taqueria in Las Vegas; Chicken Guy! in Disney Springs, Fla.; and Mixology in Los Angeles.

KrebsOnsecurity contacted the executive team at Buca di Beppo in late February after determining most of this restaurant’s locations were likely involved a data breach that first surfaced on Joker’s Stash, an underground shop that sells huge new batches of freshly-stolen credit and debit cards on a regular basis.

Joker’s Stash typically organizes different batches of stolen cards around a codename tied to a specific merchant breach. This naming convention allows criminals who purchased cards from a specific batch and found success using those cards fraudulently to buy from the same batch again when future cards stolen from the same breached merchant are posted for sale.

While a given batch’s nickname usually has little relation to the breached merchant, Joker’s Stash does offer a number of search options for customers that can sometimes be used to trace a large batch of stolen cards back to a specific merchant.

This is especially true if the victim merchant has a number of store locations in multiple smaller U.S. towns. That’s because while Joker’s Stash makes its stolen cards searchable via a variety of qualities — the card-issuing bank or expiration date, for example — perhaps the most useful in this case is the city or ZIP code tied to each card.

As with a number of other carding sites, Joker’s Stash indexes cards by the city and/or ZIP code of the store from which the card was stolen (not the ZIP code of the affected cardholders).

On Feb. 20, Joker’s Stash moved a new batch of some 2.15 million stolen cards that it dubbed the “Davinci Breach.” An analysis of the cities and towns listed among the Davinci cards for sale included a number of hacked store locations that were not in major cities, such as Burnsville, Minn., Livonia, Mich., Midvale, Utah, Norwood, Ohio, and Wheeling, Ill.

Earl Enterprises said in its statement the malicious software installed at affected stores captured payment card data, which could have included credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates and, in some cases, cardholder names. The company says online orders were not affected.

Malicious hackers typically steal card data from organizations by hacking into point-of-sale systems remotely and seeding those systems with malicious software that can copy account data stored on a card’s magnetic stripe. Thieves can use that data to clone the cards and then use the counterfeits to buy high-priced merchandise from electronics stores and big box retailers.

Cardholders are not responsible for fraudulent charges, but your bank isn’t always going to detect card fraud. That’s why it’s important to regularly review your monthly statements and quickly report any unauthorized charges.


A Month After 2 Million Customer Cards Sold Online, Buca di Beppo Parent Admits Breach 22

Tags: Buca di Beppo breach, Chicken Guy! breach, Davinci breach, Earl Enterprises, Earl of Sandwich breach, Joker’s stash, Mixology breach, Planet Hollywood breach, Tequila Taqueria breach

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Alleged Child Porn Lord Faces US Extradition

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In 2013, the FBI exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Firefox to seize control over a Dark Web network of child pornography sites. The alleged owner of that ring – 33-year-old Freedom Hosting operator Eric Eoin Marques – was arrested in Ireland later that year on a U.S. warrant and has been in custody ever since. This week, Ireland’s Supreme Court cleared the way for Marques to be extradited to the United States.

Alleged Child Porn Lord Faces US Extradition 23

Eric Eoin Marques. Photo: Irishtimes.com

The FBI has called Marques the world’s largest facilitator of child porn. He is wanted on four charges linked to hidden child porn sites like “Lolita City” and “PedoEmpire,” which the government says were extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children. Investigators allege that sites on Freedom Hosting had thousands of customers, and earned Marques more than $1.5 million.

For years Freedom Hosting had developed a reputation as a safe haven for hosting child porn. Marques allegedly operated Freedom Hosting as a turnkey solution for Web sites that hide their true location using Tor, an online anonymity tool.

The sites could only be accessed using the Tor Browser Bundle, which is built on the Firefox Web browser. On Aug. 4, 2013, U.S. federal agents exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Firefox version 17 that allowed them to identify the true Internet addresses and computer names of people using Tor Browser to visit the child porn sites at Freedom Hosting.

Irish public media service RTE reported in 2013 that Marques briefly regained access to one of his hosting servers even after the FBI had seized control over it and changed the password, briefly locking the feds out of the system.

As Wired.com observed at the time, “in addition to the wrestling match over Freedom Hosting’s servers, Marques allegedly dove for his laptop when the police raided him, in an effort to shut it down.”

Marques, who holds dual Irish-US citizenship, was denied bail and held pending his nearly six-year appeal process to contest his extradition. FBI investigators told the courts they feared he would try to destroy evidence and/or flee the country. FBI agents testified that Marques had made inquiries about how to get a visa and entry into Russia and set up residence and citizenship there.

“My suspicion is he was trying to look for a place to reside to make it the most difficult to be extradited to the US,” FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue reportedly told an Irish court in 2013.

Even before the FBI testified in court about its actions, clues began to emerge that the Firefox exploit used to record the true Internet address of Freedom Hosting visitors was developed specifically for U.S. federal investigators. In an analysis posted on Aug. 4, reverse engineer Vlad Tsrklevich concluded that because the payload of the Firefox exploit didn’t download or execute any secondary backdoor or commands “it’s very likely that this is being operated by an [law enforcement agency] and not by blackhats.”

According to The Irish Times, in a few days Marques is likely to be escorted from Cloverhill Prison to Dublin Airport where he will be put on a US-bound flight and handcuffed to a waiting US marshal. If convicted of all four charges, he faces life in prison (3o years for each count).


Alleged Child Porn Lord Faces US Extradition 24

Tags: Brooke Donahue, Eric Eoin Marques, fbi, Firefox zero-day, Freedom Hosting, RTE, The Irish Times, Tor, Tor Browser Bundle, Vlad Tsrklevich, wired.com

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