400 Security Practitioners Gave These 7 Insights into Their Cybercrime Monitoring

The cybercrime underground is complex and dynamic, and cybercrime threats that emerge from it pose a significant risk to organizations. What organizations know and refer to as the cybercrime underground is changing within the hour. Unfortunately, many organizations underestimate that risk or may believe that cybercrime monitoring and threat detection doesn't apply to their organization. Even the organizations that do understand the threat it presents are often underprepared with their tools, processes, and expertise to proactively protect their environments. KELA's mission is to make the complex world of the cybercrime underground simple and accessible to security teams so that they can leverage intelligence from cybercrime underground sources to keep their organizations safe. In order to better understand how they approach their cybercrime monitoring, we recently surveyed 400 security practitioners to see if they have the tools and training to protect their organization effectively, as well as gain insights into their successes, challenges, and current needs. Here are seven key insights from our "State of Cybercrime Threat Intelligence 2022" report about the state of cybercrime threat intelligence today.In looking at the responses in our survey, it became obvious that what would be most beneficial to their organization is additional training and proficiency in cybercrime investigations — especially with one of the top challenges being a lack of expertise. Security practitioners are also looking for a way to access the cybercrime underground quickly in a secure and non-attributional manner.

Proact, Don’t React: How CISOs Should View Cybercrime Threat Intelligence

David Carmiel, KELA's CEOAnyone involved in cybersecurity knows that the threat landscape is constantly evolving. Attackers are always looking for new ways to exploit systems and data, while defenders are working hard to stay ahead of them. In this constant cat-and-mouse game, it’s essential for security professionals to have up-to-date information on the latest threats. When defending your organization against cybercrime threats, it’s essential to have access to the latest threat intelligence. Security teams need actionable insights into the cybercrime underground ecosystem to better understand the threats their organizations face and take appropriate steps to defend themselves. Threat intelligence can be extremely valuable in helping organizations stay ahead of attackers and mitigate risk. But it’s also a complex and rapidly changing field, so keeping up with the latest trends can be challenging. This article will look at how the cybercrime threat intelligence landscape has evolved over the last few years and what we can expect in the coming months and years. We’ll also discuss some critical challenges security professionals face when implementing or using cybercrime threat intelligence.

Defender-in-the-middle: How to reduce damage from info-stealing malware

Victoria Kivilevich, Director of Threat ResearchBottom Line Up Front Following recent hacks of Uber and Rockstar Games, KELA decided to take a look at attacks that started with compromised corporate credentials being leaked or traded in the cybercrime ecosystem. Nowadays, this ecosystem enables threat actors to easily acquire such credentials that were accessed by information-stealing malware and offered for sale on automated botnet marketplaces, such as Genesis, Russian Market and TwoEasy.  While some threat actors are looking for banking and e-commerce credentials that they can use to cash out easily by stealing money from a compromised account, smarter attackers target organizations and their corporate credentials. These attackers are exchanging tips for finding such credentials, and they use the cybercrime ecosystem to buy them for a few dollars.  Luckily, defenders can access the same cybercrime ecosystem and can have the same visibility as a threat actor that is planning an attack. Threat intelligence solutions can be used effectively to monitor exposed assets and reduce attack surface by remediating exposures or taking down compromised data.  It’s crucial to consider not only direct assets of the company, but also workspaces hosted by third parties, with Slack being a perfect example: based on KELA’s research, thousands of unique workspaces were compromised and could be used for attacks similar to the Electronic Arts incident. The evolution of cybercrime — focusing on servitization (paying for a service instead of buying the equipment) and sales automation, as well as increased visibility of goods — will drive more threat actors to use this ecosystem.

Six months into Breached: The legacy of RaidForums?

Yael Kishon, Threat Intelligence AnalystOn March 14, 2022, a new English-language cybercrime forum called Breached (also known as BreachForums) launched, as a response to the closure and seizure of the popular RaidForums. Breached was launched with the same design by the threat actor “pompompurin” as “an alternative to RaidForums,” offering large-scale database leaks, login credentials, adult content, and hacking tools.  In late January 2022, three prominent actors from RaidForums were arrested after the domain was seized – the administrator and creator of the forum “Omnipotent” and two other administrators, “Jaw” and “moot.” According to the US Department of Justice, the owner of RaidForums was Portuguese national Diogo Santos Coelho (aka Omnipotent), who was charged with conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Coelho and his partners are alleged to have designed the forum’s software and computer infrastructure and managed the forum, promoting database exchange.  After the closure of RaidForums, it was only a few weeks until the launch of Breached. And in  the first six months of its existence, Breached has become the new platform for database exchange, attracting more than 82,000 registered users. KELA explored whether Breached has actually replaced RaidForums as the most popular database exchange site and analyzed the top actors’ activities and trends associated with the new forum. 

(NOT) Lost in Translation – Why Your Language Doesn’t Matter to Cybercriminals

Irina Nesterovsky, Chief Research OfficerAt KELA, we meet and work with companies from various geographies and languages, yet everyone keeps asking the same question: “Do you cover Spanish/French/Arabic/Younameit cybercrime sources?”. First, the answer is “yes” (isn’t that always the case?), but we also have a more in-depth one – such in which we say that a threat against any company, no matter the vertical, no matter the size, is not confined to a language or geography. What’s interesting about cybercrime, especially one targeted at enterprises and their clients – is that the criminals perpetrating it don’t have to be your countrymen or even speak your language to pose a threat to your organization. As an example, let’s look into some of the most high-profile cybercrime communities discussing various schemes and trading in network accesses, databases, and others just for monetary gain. Those – taking as an example the Exploit and XSS forums – happen to be run by Russian-speaking threat actors, who will also use English to correspond with their fellow foreign cybercriminals. The targets and victims discussed by those cybercriminals vary and can include any company worldwide – regardless of their residence. And while, as seen in KELA’s review of Initial Access Brokers trends, the leading country with companies compromised through network access is still the US, it is also followed by the UK, Brazil, Canada, and India.

The Next Generation of Info Stealers

KELA Cyber Intelligence CenterIn recent years, information-stealing Trojans have become a very popular attack vector. This type of malware is used for harvesting saved information on machines including usernames and passwords (“logs”) which are further sold on automated botnet marketplaces such as RussianMarket, TwoEasy, and Genesis, or privately. If purchased by threat actors, these credentials pose a significant risk to an organization, as they allow actors to access various resources which may result in data exfiltration, lateral movement, and malware deployment, such as ransomware. Some of the most popular info-stealers advertised on cybercrime forums and identified on these marketplaces are RedLine, Raccoon, and Vidar. While some of these commodity stealers remain relevant, KELA observed that the threat landscape started to change under various conditions. The Russia-Ukraine war, the info-stealer operators’ need to improve malware capabilities, and their financial motivation, resulted in new stealers and services becoming available. This report focuses on the currently active information stealers, highlighting the evolution of the old stealers, as well as the debut of new ones.

How the Cybercrime Landscape has been Changed following the Russia-Ukraine War

Elena Koldobsky, Threat Intelligence AnalystOn February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, following years of tension between the two countries. The notion of war led multiple countries to speculate that Russia may use cyber attacks against Ukraine and supporting it western organizations and companies, with the US sending “top security officials” to help NATO prepare for Russian cyberattacks. Surprisingly, expectations for severe cyber-attacks on Ukraine and Europe turned out to be overestimated, as Russia refrained from large-scale attacks, and instead used distributed denial-of-service and wiper attacks on Ukrainian governmental institutions, infrastructure and telecommunications companies, and more. To defend itself, Ukraine raised a volunteer “IT Army”, which, together with hacktivists organizations from across the world, is targeting Russian companies and organizations to this day. The winds of change have not passed over the cybercrime underground. From new illicit services that have never been available before, through war-related discussions appearing on apolitical cybercrime forums, to a hacktivist group using a famous Russian ransomware gang’s source code to target Russian companies – the cybercrime landscape has altered beyond recognition. This report reviews the various changes that occurred in the cybercrime underground following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It provides a unique window into the delicate geopolitics of cybercrime, demonstrating how real-life emergencies influence services and opportunities and generate new trends.

From Initial Access to Ransomware Attack – 5 Real Cases Showing the Path from Start to End

KELA Cyber Intelligence CenterSuccessful ransomware attacks are all alike: they start from unnoticed access to a company’s network. While some attackers get their access in a stealthy way, some use publicly available offerings on cybercrime forums and markets. Part of these offerings is made by Initial Access Brokers who play a crucial role in the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) economy. These actors significantly facilitate network intrusions by selling remote access to a computer in a compromised organization (Initial Network Access) and linking opportunistic campaigns with targeted attackers. Ransomware actors are actively looking for network access listings on cybercrime forums to match their ideal ransomware victim. In this blog, KELA reveals several ransomware attacks that started with network access on sale and led to an attack within a month from the sale offer.

Season’s Stealings – The Dark Side of Holiday Shopping

Elena Koldobsky, Threat Intelligence AnalystOffering holiday discounts to potential customers is a known marketing strategy – selling products, be it chocolate, clothes, or perfumes, for a decreased price, to increase sales during the holiday season. Unsurprisingly, the unwritten marketing laws have not skipped cybercrime communities. During this time of the year, threat actors get “cheerful” and post creative promotion ideas, offering malware, botnets, and encryptors for a decreased price as a holiday sale.  For instance, on December 11, 2021, the threat actor “Grimxploit” posted a Christmas offer on the cybercrime forum RaidForums – an English-speaking forum focusing mostly on data breaches – promising to sell his products for a 20% discount to all those who use the coupon code “CHRISTMASS20”. Among the products sold were his Grimxploit branded crypter, worm, keylogger, and others, as well as a “remoded” version of Anubis botnet.

2easy: Logs Marketplace on the Rise

KELA Cyber Intelligence CenterAs part of KELA’s continuous monitoring of communities and markets in the cybercrime underground, KELA identified a rise in the activity of a relatively new market of stolen user information, called “2easy”. The market is an automated platform where different actors sell “logs” – data and browser-saved information harvested from machines (bots) all over the world infected with information-stealing malware. Currently, the market offers information stolen from almost 600,000 bots. Based on analysis of the data collected by KELA’s systems from this market, as of December 2021, the market hosts 18 sellers offering their infostealer logs for sale. Investigation of these sellers’ activities in the cybercrime underground, as well as feedback about the market posted to dark web sources, indicates that the market has a certain recognition among cybercriminals that deal with stolen credentials; they provide mostly positive feedback. As such, KELA assesses that credentials sold in 2easy are generally valid and may present a direct threat to organizations. KELA’s analysis of the market finds that RedLine information stealing malware is the most popular choice for the market’s vendors – with over 50% of the machines offered for sale on the market being infected with RedLine.