Feeds

Crimeware grifters scamming naive phishers

Dishonour among thieves

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Phishing exploitation kits can be picked up for free on the internet but these packages are regularly backdoored, according to a new study.

Security researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have confirmed that inexperienced phishers are in effect doing the legwork for more wily grifters. Many phishing kits distributed in the digital underground hand over data collected to coders. "These phishing kits target two classes of victims: the gullible users from whom they extort valuable information and the unexperienced phishers who deploy them," the researchers (Marco Cova, Christopher Kruegel, and Giovanni Vigna) conclude.

Phishing kits typically bundle all the content required to replicate a targeted web site, including HTML pages, JavaScript and CSS files, and media files, such as Flash clips.

By cleaning up and analysing data from the PhishTank database the researchers found that 61 of 150 unique phishing kits running live contained backdoors. Of 353 working phishing kits obtained on the digital underground, 129 (or more than a third) contained hidden backdoors. "We consider a kit to be backdoored if it sends the phished information to addresses other than those found in clear in the kit's code," the researchers explain.

The vast majority of phishing kits email compromised information to a user selected email address (the drop site). Less than one per cent of the sample analysed by Santa Barbara team either posted the information on a compromised server or sent it to a third party location.

Any site set up with a compromised phishing kit would surreptitiously send harvested data to a third party (often via a webmail address). Sometimes this might happen after a cybercrook takes an expensive web malware exploitation kit, adds a backdoor, and starts to distribute compromised copies for free, notes security consultant and blogger Dancho Danchev. He added that more sophisticated crooks go one step further in attempting to use software bugs in exploit kits, such as Zeus and Pinch, to seize control of botnets.

All in all the adage of no honour among thieves seems to apply just as well to the underground digital economy as old-fashioned blaggers.

The use of backdoors by phishers and the compromise of exploit tools have been covered by security watchers in the past, but the University of California study is one of the first to look systematically into the issues. The research, There is No Free Phish: An Analysis of “Free” and Live Phishing Kits, was presented at a Usenix workshop of offensive technologies in San Jose late last month. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.