Feeds

Hotmail 'phishing' campaign is small peanuts

Black market bulges with webmail logins

Seven Steps to Software Security

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.