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On Dec. 23, 2022, KrebsOnSecurity alerted big-three consumer credit reporting bureau Experian that identity thieves had worked out how to bypass its security and access any consumer's full credit report — armed with nothing more than a person's name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Experian fixed the glitch, but remained silent about the incident for a month. This week, however, Experian acknowledged that the security failure persisted for nearly seven weeks, between Nov. 9, 2022 and Dec. 26, 2022. The tip about the Experian weakness came from Jenya Kushnir, a security researcher living in Ukraine who said he discovered the method being used by identity thieves after spending time on Telegram chat channels dedicated to cybercrime. Normally, Experian's website will ask a series of multiple-choice questions about one's financial history, as a way of validating the identity of the person requesting the credit report. But Kushnir said the crooks learned they could bypass those questions and trick Experian into giving them access to anyone’s credit report, just by editing the address displayed in the browser URL bar at a specific point in Experian’s identity verification process. When I tested Kushnir's instructions on my own identity at Experian, I found I was able to see my report even though Experian's website told me it didn't have enough information to validate my identity. A security researcher friend who tested it at Experian found she also could…

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Denis Emelyantsev, a 36-year-old Russian man accused of running a massive botnet called RSOCKS that stitched malware into millions of devices worldwide, pleaded guilty to two counts of computer crime violations in a California courtroom this week. The plea comes just months after Emelyantsev was extradited from Bulgaria, where he told investigators, “America is looking for me because I have enormous information and they need it.” A copy of the passport for Denis Emelyantsev, a.k.a. Denis Kloster, as posted to his Vkontakte page in 2019. First advertised in the cybercrime underground in 2014, RSOCKS was the web-based storefront for hacked computers that were sold as “proxies” to cybercriminals looking for ways to route their Web traffic through someone else’s device. Customers could pay to rent access to a pool of proxies for a specified period, with costs ranging from $30 per day for access to 2,000 proxies, to $200 daily for up to 90,000 proxies. Many of the infected systems were Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including industrial control systems, time clocks, routers, audio/video streaming devices, and smart garage door openers. Later in its existence, the RSOCKS botnet expanded into compromising Android devices and conventional computers. In June 2022, authorities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom announced a joint operation to dismantle the RSOCKS botnet. But that action did not name any defendants. Inspired by that takedown,…

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T-Mobile today disclosed a data breach affecting tens of millions of customer accounts, its second major data exposure in as many years. In a filing with federal regulators, T-Mobile said an investigation determined that someone abused its systems to harvest subscriber data tied to approximately 37 million current customer accounts. Image: customink.com In a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, T-Mobile said a "bad actor" abused an application programming interface (API) to hoover up data on roughly 37 million current postpaid and prepaid customer accounts. The data stolen included customer name, billing address, email, phone number, date of birth, T-Mobile account number, as well as information on the number of customer lines and plan features. APIs are essentially instructions that allow applications to access data and interact with web databases. But left improperly secured, these APIs can be leveraged by malicious actors to mass-harvest information stored in those databases. In October, mobile provider Optus disclosed that hackers abused a poorly secured API to steal data on 10 million customers in Australia. The company said it first learned of the incident on Jan. 5, 2022, and that an investigation determined the bad actor started abusing the API beginning around Nov. 25, 2022. T-Mobile says it is in the process of notifying affected customers, and that no customer payment card data, passwords, Social Security numbers, driver's license or…

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Most people who operate DDoS-for-hire businesses attempt to hide their true identities and location. Proprietors of these so-called "booter" or "stresser" services — designed to knock websites and users offline — have long operated in a legally murky area of cybercrime law. But until recently, their biggest concern wasn't avoiding capture or shutdown by the feds: It was minimizing harassment from unhappy customers or victims, and insulating themselves against incessant attacks from competing DDoS-for-hire services. And then there are booter store operators like John Dobbs, a 32-year-old computer science graduate student living in Honolulu, Hawaii. For at least a decade until late last year, Dobbs openly operated IPStresser[.]com, a popular and powerful attack-for-hire service that he registered with the state of Hawaii using his real name and address. Likewise, the domain was registered in Dobbs's name and hometown in Pennsylvania. Dobbs, in an undated photo from his Github profile. Image: john-dobbs.github.io The only work experience Dobbs listed on his resume was as a freelance developer from 2013 to the present day. Dobbs's resume doesn't name his booter service, but in it he brags about maintaining websites with half a million page views daily, and "designing server deployments for performance, high-availability and security." In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice seized Dobbs's IPStresser website and charged him with one count of aiding and abetting…

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Microsoft today released updates to fix nearly 100 security flaws in its Windows operating systems and other software. Highlights from the first Patch Tuesday of 2023 include a zero-day vulnerability in Windows, printer software flaws reported by the U.S. National Security Agency, and a critical Microsoft SharePoint Server bug that allows a remote, unauthenticated attacker to make an anonymous connection. At least 11 of the patches released today are rated "Critical" by Microsoft, meaning they could be exploited by malware or malcontents to seize remote control over vulnerable Windows systems with little or no help from users. Of particular concern for organizations running Microsoft SharePoint Server is CVE-2023-21743. This is a Critical security bypass flaw that could allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to make an anonymous connection to a vulnerable SharePoint server. Microsoft says this flaw is "more likely to be exploited" at some point. But patching this bug may not be as simple as deploying Microsoft updates. Dustin Childs, head of threat awareness at Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, said sysadmins need to take additional measures to be fully protected from this vulnerability. "To fully resolve this bug, you must also trigger a SharePoint upgrade action that’s also included in this update," Childs said. "Full details on how to do this are in the bulletin. Situations like this are why people who scream ‘Just patch it!’ show they have never actually had to…

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Identity thieves have been exploiting a glaring security weakness in the website of Experian, one of the big three consumer credit reporting bureaus. Normally, Experian requires that those seeking a copy of their credit report successfully answer several multiple choice questions about their financial history. But until the end of 2022, Experian's website allowed anyone to bypass these questions and go straight to the consumer's report. All that was needed was the person's name, address, birthday and Social Security number. The vulnerability in Experian's website was exploitable after one applied to see their credit file via annualcreditreport.com. In December, KrebsOnSecurity heard from Jenya Kushnir, a security researcher living in Ukraine who said he discovered the method being used by identity thieves after spending time on Telegram chat channels dedicated to the cashing out of compromised identities. "I want to try and help to put a stop to it and make it more difficult for [ID thieves] to access, since [Experian is] not doing shit and regular people struggle," Kushnir wrote in an email to KrebsOnSecurity explaining his motivations for reaching out. "If somehow I can make small change and help to improve this, inside myself I can feel that I did something that actually matters and helped others." Kushnir said the crooks learned they could trick Experian into giving them access to anyone's credit report, just by editing the address displayed in the browser URL bar at a…

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KrebsOnSecurity turns 13 years old today. That's a crazy long time for an independent media outlet these days, but then again I'm bound to keep doing this as long as they keep letting me. Heck, I've been doing this so long I briefly forgot which birthday this was! Thanks to your readership and support, I was able to spend more time in 2022 on some deep, meaty investigative stories — the really satisfying kind with the potential to affect positive change. Some of that work is highlighted in the 2022 Year in Review review below. Until recently, I was fairly active on Twitter, regularly tweeting to more than 350,000 followers about important security news and stories here. For a variety of reasons, I will no longer be sharing these updates on Twitter. I seem to be doing most of that activity now on Mastodon, which appears to have absorbed most of the infosec refugees from Twitter, and in any case is proving to be a far more useful, civil and constructive place to post such things. I will also continue to post on LinkedIn about new stories in 2023. Here's a look at some of the more notable cybercrime stories from the past year, as covered by KrebsOnSecurity and elsewhere. Several strong themes emerged from 2022's crop of breaches, including the targeting or impersonating of employees to gain access to internal company tools; multiple intrusions at the same victim company; and less-than-forthcoming statements from victim firms about what actually transpired. JANUARY You just…

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Millions of people likely just received an email or snail mail notice saying they're eligible to claim a class action payment in connection with the 2017 megabreach at consumer credit bureau Equifax. Given the high volume of reader inquiries about this, it seemed worth pointing out that while this particular offer is legit (if paltry), scammers are likely to soon capitalize on public attention to the settlement money. One reader's copy of their Equifax Breach Settlement letter. They received a check for $6.97. In 2017, Equifax disclosed a massive, extended data breach that led to the theft of Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, addresses and other personal information on nearly 150 million people. Following a public breach response perhaps best described as a giant dumpster fire, the big-three consumer credit reporting bureau was quickly hit with nearly two dozen class-action lawsuits. In exchange for resolving all outstanding class action claims against it, Equifax in 2019 agreed to a settlement that includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the breach. Affected consumers were eligible to apply for at least three years of credit monitoring via all three major bureaus simultaneously, including Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Or, if you didn't want to take advantage of the credit monitoring offers, you could opt for a cash payment of up to $125. The settlement also offered reimbursement for the time you may have spent remedying identity theft or misuse…

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Photo: BrandonKleinPhoto / Shutterstock.com Two U.S. men have been charged with hacking into the Ring home security cameras of a dozen random people and then "swatting" them — falsely reporting a violent incident at the target's address to trick local police into responding with force. Prosecutors say the duo used the compromised Ring devices to stream live video footage on social media of police raiding their targets' homes, and to taunt authorities when they arrived. Prosecutors in Los Angeles allege 20-year-old James Thomas Andrew McCarty, a.k.a. "Aspertaine," of Charlotte, N.C., and Kya Christian Nelson, a.k.a. "ChumLul," 22, of Racine, Wisc., conspired to hack into Yahoo email accounts belonging to victims in the United States. From there, the two allegedly would check how many of those Yahoo accounts were associated with Ring accounts, and then target people who used the same password for both accounts. An indictment unsealed this week says that in the span of just one week in November 2020, McCarty and Nelson identified and swatted at least a dozen different victims across the country. "The defendants then allegedly accessed without authorization the victims' Ring devices and transmitted the audio and video from those devices on social media during the police response," reads a statement from Martin Estrada, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. "They also allegedly verbally taunted responding police officers and victims through the Ring devices…

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today seized four-dozen domains that sold "booter" or "stresser" services — businesses that make it easy and cheap for even non-technical users to launch powerful Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks designed knock targets offline. The DOJ also charged six U.S. men with computer crimes related to their alleged ownership of the popular DDoS-for-hire services. The booter service OrphicSecurityTeam[.]com was one of the 48 DDoS-for-hire domains seized by the Justice Department this week. The DOJ said the 48 domains it seized helped paying customers launch millions of digital sieges capable of knocking Web sites and even entire network providers offline. Booter services are advertised through a variety of methods, including Dark Web forums, chat platforms and even youtube.com. They accept payment via PayPal, Google Wallet, and/or cryptocurrencies, and subscriptions can range in price from just a few dollars to several hundred per month. The services are generally priced according to the volume of traffic to be hurled at the target, the duration of each attack, and the number of concurrent attacks allowed. Prosecutors in Los Angeles say the booter sites supremesecurityteam[.]com and royalstresser[.]com were the brainchild of Jeremiah Sam Evans Miller, a.k.a. "John the Dev," a 23-year-old from San Antonio, Texas. Miller was charged this week with conspiracy and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The complaint…

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