Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Security Software Company Discovers Possible ID-Theft Ring

Filed under
Security

A Florida security software company says it has stumbled across what may be a major identity-theft effort.

Sunbelt Software Inc., which makes software used to protect computers from spyware, says it has discovered a server holding passwords and other personal information that may have been illegally collected using keylogging software.

"One of our researchers here, while doing some research for our anti-spyware tool, came across a server that happened to have a file on it that turns out to be a log file from a keylogger that's been deployed, it looks like, all over the world," David Bove, Sunbelt's director of spyware research, said in an interview.

Bove wouldn't provide more details about how the server was found or where it's located. Sunbelt has contacted the FBI about the discovery, he says. The FBI didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

Keyloggers, whether hardware- or software-based, are used to capture information typed into computers, typically without the knowledge of the computer user. Used by law enforcement, they're a valuable tool for obtaining passwords criminals use to encrypt incriminating information. Used by criminals, they're a valuable tool for emptying online bank accounts and perpetrating identity-theft fraud. Keylogging software is usually distributed through Trojan software, worms, or viruses.

In July 2003, Juju Jiang pleaded guilty in federal court to computer fraud charges for using a keylogging program called Invisible KeyLogger Stealth at a number of Kinko's locations in Manhattan. In March, the British Hi-Tech Crime Unit foiled an attempt to steal some $420 million from a London branch of Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui. The thieves reportedly hacked the bank's systems through information obtained from a keylogger.

Bove says the log file contains user IDs, passwords, and associated URLs, along with IM chat logs that have been captured and transmitted over the Internet by the keylogger. Whoever is responsible has been periodically harvesting the suspected stolen data and resetting the file size, he says. When the file was discovered a week ago, it had 22 Mbytes of data. It currently has 4 Mbytes and is growing at a rate of 200 Kbytes per hour, Bove says.

Sunbelt president Alex Eckelberry brought the discovery to light through a Sunbelt blog posting. "We're sitting upon literally thousands of pages of stolen identities that are being used right now," Eckelberry wrote Friday afternoon.

"There is a LOT of bank information in here, including one company bank account with over US$350,000 and another small company in California with over $11,000 readily accessible," Eckelberry wrote. "This list goes on and on and on."

"We were trying to figure out if this was real or not," Bove says. "And we actually logged into those accounts. That's how we knew how much money was in there. Then we immediately attempted to contact the individuals to let them know."

By Thomas Claburn
InformationWeek

More in Tux Machines

CuBox-i4Pro Review

A bundled microSD card arrives preinserted into the rear of the CuBox-i, and it’s loaded with a version of Google’s Android operating system. Interestingly, SolidRun has gone to the effort of seeking the certifications required to load the Google Apps suite onto the card, meaning users receive Google Mail, YouTube, Google Maps and full access to Google Play straight out of the box. An even newer build, based on the latest Android 4.4 KitKat branch, can be downloaded from SolidRun’s website and provides an entirely useable desktop Android experience. Read more

Working on 3.19 – the kernel column

Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux kernel version 3.18 in time for the holidays. In his mail, Linus noted that the previous RC, release candidate 7, had been “tiny” (in terms of changes and bugfixes), so it was time to get the final release out. The latest kernel includes support for storing AMD Radeon GPU buffers in regular application memory (building upon similar work done by Intel for kernel 3.16), and overlayfs (which we have covered previously), amongst a number of other less interesting new features. A full summary is provided at Kernel Newbies. Read more

The top 10 rookie open source projects

Open source has become the industry's engine of innovation. This year, for example, growth in projects related to Docker containerization trumped every other rookie area -- and not coincidentally reflected the most exciting area of enterprise technology overall. At the very least, the projects described here provide a window on what the global open source developer community is thinking, which is fast becoming a good indicator of where we're headed. Read more

First thoughts on KaOS 2014.12

The latest snapshot of this rolling release distribution includes initial support for UEFI, the KDE 4.14 desktop, systemd version 218 and the Qupzilla web browser. I mention Qupzilla because I feel it is a rare gem in the open source world, a quick capable browser that perhaps does not get the attention it deserves. KaOS is available in just one edition, a 64-bit x86 build. The ISO we download for KaOS is 1.6GB in size. Read more