Oh deer.io: Cyber criminals* using one-stop DIY web biz shops

You don't even need to know web design to be a baddie

Woman in balaclava with shopping bags. Photo by Shutterstock
Right. Hacker hoodies – check. Black balaclavas – can't have too many. Pretty website with cash till for malware - check...

Updated Cybercrime miscreants seem to be flocking to a one-stop online web business shop.

The use of sites like Deer.io prove the barriers to entry for cybercrime are continually being lowered, according to threat intel firm Digital Shadows.

Darkside.global, a URL associated with cybercriminal Tessa88 who has distributed leaked datasets from various social networking sites including MySpace and LinkedIn, is one of the shops hosted by Deer.io.

The Deer.io outlet offers an all-in-one outsourced online shop: providing hosting, website design (based on WordPress-like templates) and payment handling (Webmoney, Yandex Money and QIWI). The shop even offers DDoS protection to would-be franchises as well as a promise to offer anonymity and security.

"The service appears to have been active since at least October 2013 and, at the time of this writing, claimed that its users have profited from over 240 million roubles (RUB) (approximately $3.6m, £2.8m)," according to Digital Shadows.

"We estimate the total number of shops hosted on the service to be close to 1,000. However, because some are hosted on separate domains and some as subdomains (ie, shopname[.]deer[.]io), there are potentially a significant number of duplicates or mirrors."

The majority of the shops hosted on Deer.io appear to sell products that are stolen, or from compromised accounts (stolen accounts from other services including banks, payment, gift and loyalty cards as well as bot-registered and stolen but legitimate social media accounts).

Some offer dedicated servers (mostly Azure and AWS) and domain names available for sale. Deer.io specifically caters to users with low technical capabilities who would find it challenging if not impossible to do anything themselves.

Deer.io (motto: "The right choice for creating your internet shop") charges a monthly fee of 500 RUB (approximately $8, £5.78) to provide customer service and product development. It offers prompt responses to queries, according to Digital Shadows. "The breadth of offerings and responsiveness almost certainly contributes to the apparent popularity of the service," the security intelligence firm added.

The platform even offers prospective users the opportunity to log into a test shop to see how it operates from the inside. "We were able to log in and investigate and found what we consider to be a well-designed, simple user interface that allowed users to easily control and monitor their products, view shop statistics, review payments and shop design, and even ban visitors," Digital Shadows reports.

While Deer.io does not appear to be a criminal site itself, many of the shops hosted on its infrastructure appear to be criminal. The administrators of Deer.io warn their hosted shops not to sell illegal goods and deny all responsibility for any illegal items advertised. The service provides a "Report site" option, and detected blog conversations suggest that certain products (including banking and payment card details) may be removed.

Nonetheless, it is assessed as likely that the site administrators are willing to ignore some activity and listings. Deer.io was detected as advertised on well-known criminal forums such as Xeksek, AntiChat, Zloy and Exploit, and Deer.io recommends that its users publicize their shops on these sites as well.

"Deer.io's existence is a continuation of a trend of lowering the barrier to entry into the cybercriminal world. We have previously observed similar developments such as DDoS-as-a-service and the rental of exploit kits," Digital Shadows concludes.

The services offered by Deer.io are not unique; a smaller venture primarily offering the sale of gaming accounts and a marketplace for those providing malware-encrypting services are also advertised. While this shows an increased level of maturity in the marketplace, it is also interesting due to its apparent mimicry of similar, legitimate ecommerce services.

The Register has contacted Deer.io for comment. ®

Update

A spokesman told The Register: "deer.io works according to the laws of the Russian Federation. Our clients can create shops that do not violate the laws of the Russian Federation. We block shops that sell drugs/stolen bank accounts. We will also block any shop if requested by Roskomnadzor or the competent authorities of the Russian Federation."

Also, WebMoney has been in touch to say it stopped accepting payments for deer.io last year. WebMoney's website labels deer.io as a "malicious" site.

* a.k.a. cyberpunks. Cyberpunks cyberpunks CCCCCCCCCCYYYYY-BBBBBBRRR-PUNKS. (U mad, bro?)

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