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

Tails 1.1.1 is out

The next Tails release is scheduled for October 14. Have a look to our roadmap to see where we are heading to. Read more

Healthdirect Australia sees value in open source for security solution

Commonwealth and state/territory government funded public company, Healthdirect Australia, has used open source software to build an identity and access management (IAM) solution. The IAM solution allows users to have one identity across all of its websites and applications. For example, users can sign in using their Facebook, LinkedIn or Gmail account. Read more

Ubuntu Installer Bug Can Delete Your Hard Drive and All Other OSes

The Ubuntu installation procedure is governed by a piece of software called Ubiquity and it's one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use installers on the Linux platform. Unfortunately, users have been confronting with a bug that could wipe their entire hard-driver without any kind of announcement. Read more

You have your Windows in my Linux

Although there are those who think the systemd debate has been decided in favor of systemd, the exceedingly loud protests on message boards, forums, and the posts I wrote over the past two weeks would indicate otherwise. I've seen many declarations of victory for systemd, now that Red Hat has forced it into the enterprise with the release of RHEL 7. I don't think it's that easy. Read more