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$260 gets you a password stealer… • The Register

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A Tor-hidden website dubbed the Eternity Project is offering a toolkit of malware, including ransomware, worms, and – coming soon – distributed denial-of-service programs, at low prices.

According to researchers at cyber-intelligence outfit Cyble, the Eternity site’s operators also have a channel on Telegram, where they provide videos detailing features and functions of the Windows malware. Once bought, it’s up to the buyer how victims’ computers are infected; we’ll leave that to your imagination.

The Telegram channel has about 500 subscribers, Team Cyble documented this week. Once someone decides to purchase of one or more of Eternity’s malware components, they have the option to customize the final binary executable for whatever crimes they want to commit.

“Interestingly, individuals who purchase the malware can utilize the Telegram Bot to build the binary,” the researchers wrote. “The [threat actors] provide an option in the Telegram channel to customize the binary features, which provides an effective way to build binaries without any dependencies.”

Malware sales and subscriptions are alive and well in the cybercriminal world, with popular malware types – from ransomware to DDoS and phishing programs, as illustrated by the detection of the Frappo phishing-as-a-service tool late last month – being peddled by developers. Some miscreants also are offering paths into compromised networks via stolen credentials or direct access.

With malware-as-a-service, the programmer has various opportunities to make money from their work. They can use their malware themselves to bag ill-gotten gains; bring in cash by leasing or selling the code; and charge for support and related services. At the same time, crooks who don’t have the skills or time to develop their own malicious code can simply buy it from someone else.

“It’s not talked about that commonly, but it’s also not a surprise,” Casey Ellis, founder and CTO of cybersecurity firm Bugcrowd, told The Register.

“This is one of many examples of a criminal enterprise taking cues from technology companies and business growth and increasing their customer value through feature flexibility and SaaS-like business models.”

Budget prices

The list of malware that can be bought from the Eternity Project is extensive. For a $260 annual subscription, they can buy the Eternity Stealer, which can snaffle passwords, cookies, credit cards and cryptocurrency wallets from a victim’s infected PC and send the info to a Telegram Bot. It can attack more than 20 kinds of browser, including Chrome, Edge and Firefox, plus password managers, VPN and FTP clients, gaming software, email clients, and messengers.

The Eternity Stealer exemplifies why individuals need to be aggressive in protecting their systems, according to Ron Bradley, vice president of third-party risk management vendor Shared Assessments.

“Web browsers and other tools not purpose-built for identity and password management are akin to using an umbrella in a hurricane,” Bradley told The Register.

“The days of being cyber-complacent are over. Find and use a good password manager. Pay for the premium versions, which cost less than a cup of coffee and a bagel for a one-year subscription.”

The Eternity Miner, which sells for $90 for an annual subscription and is used to siphon resources from compromised systems to mine for cryptocurrency, delivers the ability to hide from the computer’s Task Manager, and to automatically restart it when it’s been killed. Another cryptomining tool, the Eternity Clipper, is available for $110 and is used to monitor the clipboard of an infected system for mentions of cryptocurrency wallets and replace them with the fraudster’s crypto-wallet addresses.

The ransomware can be had for $490 and not only can encrypt all data – documents, photos, and databases – but also can do so offline as it doesn’t require a network connection. It uses AES and RSA encryption algorithm, and includes the option of a time limit for paying the ransom.

“If victims fail to pay the ransom within the time limit, the encrypted files can’t be decrypted,” the Cyble researchers wrote. “This is set as a default feature while compiling a ransomware binary.”

There also is worm malware for $390 that spreads from system to system via USB and cloud drives, infected files, and network shares, and will send Telegram and Discord spam messages to channels and contacts to fool people into also downloading and running the thing. The DDoS bot is still being built, according to Cyble.

“We suspect the developer behind the Eternity project is leveraging code from the existing GitHub repository and then modifying and selling it under a new name,” they wrote. “Our analysis also indicated that the Jester Stealer could also be rebranded from this particular Github project, which indicates some links between the two threat actors.”

They also said they have seen a significant uptick in cybercrime on Telegram channels and dark-web forums. That doesn’t surprise John Bambenek, principle threat hunter for cybersecurity vendor Netenrich.

“Threat actors have been shifting to Telegram channels,” Bambenek told The Register.

“While it’s new that you can use a Telegram bot to build or acquire commodity malware, it is just the latest path to market for commodity and low-end malware for the script kiddie crowd. From the prices they are charging, I wouldn’t expect to see this often in enterprise attacks, but certainly attacks against consumers and SMBs who lack the tools to protect themselves from even basic threats would be the most frequent victims of these tools.” ®

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US offers $10m reward for info on five Conti ransomware members

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Rewards for Justice shared a photo of someone it claims to be an associate of the ransomware gang and is offering a reward to identify him and four others.

The US Department of State is offering a $10m reward for any information on five malicious cyber actors who are believed to be high-ranking members of the Conti ransomware gang.

The US has been offering rewards for information on this ransomware gang since May, including a $5m reward for any intel that leads to the arrest of anyone conspiring or attempting to participate in a Conti attack.

Yesterday (11 August), the department’s Rewards for Justice programme shared an alleged photo of an associate of the ransomware gang. The department said on Twitter that it is “trying to put a name to the face” and believes the individual is the hacker known as “Target”.

Illustration showing an image of a man with four figures next to it. A reward offer for information on the Conti ransomware gang.

A request for information by the Rewards for Justice programme. Image: US Department of State/Rewards for Justice

Conti, also known as Wizard Spider, has been linked to a group believed to be based near St Petersburg, Russia. The US has labelled it a “Russian government-linked ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) group”.

The group’s malware is believed to be responsible for more than 1,000 ransomware operations targeting critical infrastructure around the world, from law enforcement agencies to emergency medical services and dispatch centres.

In May 2021, the Conti group was behind the HSE ransomware incident that saw more than 80pc of the IT infrastructure of healthcare services across Ireland impacted. It was said to be the most serious cyberattack ever to hit the State’s critical infrastructure.

The US Department of State previously said the Conti ransomware variant is the “costliest strain of ransomware” ever documented. The FBI estimates that, as of January 2022, there had been more than 1,000 victims of attacks associated with Conti ransomware, with victim payouts exceeding $150m.

When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the Conti group declared its allegiance to the Russian government. Shortly after, a Ukrainian researcher took the cybersecurity world by storm after publishing more than 60,000 internal messages of the ransomware gang.

Raj Samani, chief scientist at cybersecurity firm Rapid7, said the latest reward offer is just “the tip of the iceberg as enforcement agencies make “considerable strides” through public-private collaboration to hold cybercriminals to account.

“Announcing a reward and revealing the details of Conti members sends a message to would-be criminals that cybercrime is anything but risk-free,” said Samani.

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Meditation app Calm sacks one-fifth of staff | Meditation

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The US-based meditation app Calm has laid off 20% of its workforce, becoming the latest US tech startup to announce job cuts.

The firm’s boss, David Ko, said the company, which has now axed about 90 people from its 400-person staff, was “not immune” to the economic climate. “In building out our strategic and financial plan, we revisited the investment thesis behind every project and it became clear that we need to make changes,” he said in a memo to staff.

“I can assure you that this was not an easy decision, but it is especially difficult for a company like ours whose mission is focused on workplace mental health and wellness.”

The Calm app, founded in 2012, offers guided meditation and bedtime stories for people of all ages. It received a surge of downloads triggered by the 2020 Covid lockdowns. By the end of that year, the software company said the app had been downloaded more than 100 million times globally and had amassed over 4 million paying subscribers.

Investors valued the firm, which said it had been profitable since 2016, at $2bn.

In the memo, Ko went on: “We did not come to this decision lightly, but are confident that these changes will help us prioritize the future, focus on growth and become a more efficient organization.”

More than 500 startups have laid off staff this year, according to layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks such announcements.

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Let there be ambient light sensing, without data theft • The Register

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Six years after web security and privacy concerns surfaced about ambient light sensors in mobile phones and notebooks, browser boffins have finally implemented defenses.

The W3C, everyone’s favorite web standards body, began formulating an Ambient Light Events API specification back in 2012 to define how web browsers should handle data and events from ambient light sensors (ALS). Section 4 of the draft spec, “Security and privacy considerations,” was blank. It was a more carefree time.

Come 2015, the spec evolved to include acknowledgement of the possibility that ALS might allow data correlation and device fingerprinting, to the detriment of people’s privacy. And it suggested that browser makers might consider event rate limiting as a potential mitigation.

By 2016, it became clear that allowing web code to interact with device light sensors entailed privacy and security risks beyond fingerprinting. Dr Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and consultant, explored the possibilities in a 2016 blog post.

Olejnik cited a number of ways in which ambient light sensor readings might be abused, including data leakage, profiling, behavioral analysis, and various forms of cross-device communication.

He described a few proof-of-concept attacks, devised with the help of security researcher Artur Janc, in a 2017 post and delved into more detail in a 2020 paper [PDF].

“The attack we devised was a side-channel leak, conceptually very simple, taking advantage of the optical properties of human skin and its reflective properties,” Olejnik explained in his paper.

“Skin reflectance only accounts for the 4-7 percent emitted light but modern display screens emit light with significant luminance. We exploited these facts of nature to craft an attack that reasoned about the website content via information encoded in the light level and conveyed via the user skin, back to the browsing context tracking the light sensor readings.”

It was this technique that enabled the proof-of-concept attacks like stealing web history through inferences made from CSS changes and stealing cross origin resources, such as images or the contents of iframes.

Snail-like speed

Browser vendors responded in various ways. In May 2018, with the release of Firefox 60, Mozilla moved access to the W3C proximity and ambient light APIs behind flags, and applied further limitations in subsequent Firefox releases.

Apple simply declined to implement the API in WebKit, along with a number of other capabilities. Both Apple and Mozilla currently oppose a proposal for a generic sensor API.

Google took what Olejnik described his paper as a “more nuanced” approach, limiting the precision of sensor data.

But those working on the W3C specification and on the browsers implementing the spec recognized that such privacy protections should be formalized, to increase the likelihood the API will be widely adopted and used.

So they voted to make the imprecision of ALS data normative (standard for browsers) and to require the camera access permission as part of the ALS spec.

Those changes finally landed in the ALS spec this week. As a result, Google and perhaps other browser makers may choose to make the ALS API available by default rather than hiding it behind a flag or ignoring it entirely. ®



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