Feeds

Hotmail 'phishing' campaign is small peanuts

Black market bulges with webmail logins

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Access to the 10,000 compromised Hotmail accounts at the centre of a high profile breach might be obtained for as little as $90 on the black market.

Rik Ferguson, a security researcher at Trend Micro, argues that the importance of the online publication of 10,000 Live ID login credentials on developer website PasteBin.com and that the subsequent upload of thousands of assorted Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL passwords and usernames has been grossly exaggerated.

Ferguson contends that contrary to media reports, it is only the way the data was publicly exposed rather than the volume of compromised accounts involved that is noteworthy.

"There is a thriving underground market in stolen email account credentials and the numbers of accounts for sale on any given day easily number over the 30,000 or so that have been exposed in this latest story [security incident]," Ferguson writes.

Spammers use compromised webmail accounts to send spam. Because such spam runs can be targeted to arrive only at the contacts listed within a compromised account, they have a greater chance of being received, opened and acted upon. Access to webmail accounts can be bought for very little through underground forums.

"Using the current prices of one single vendor who has multiple tens of thousands of stolen accounts for sale, we can estimate the value of 10,000 Hotmail account credentials at a measly $90 (US dollars), that is of course applying the 10 per cent discount that the vendor is offering for purchases of over 10k accounts," Ferguson writes.

"This is not a 'massive phishing campaign' - it is simply the ugly backside of online crime sticking out of the water for a second as they dive back into murkier depths," he concludes.

Circumstantial evidence has emerged that spammers have seized on the leaked webmail lists (quickly taken offline but still easily recoverable) in a spam-run promoting fraudulent electronics stores in the far east (see story here).

It remains unclear how the webmail IDs were obtained in the first place. Mary Landesman, a security researcher at ScanSafe, has questioned the conventional wisdom that they are the result of a phishing attack. A dump from a keylogging data Trojan is an equally likely explanation, she argues. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.