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Russian Operator of BTC-e Crypto Exchange Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

Russian Operator of BTC-e Crypto Exchange Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering
May 07, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Cybercrime
A Russian operator of a now-dismantled BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange has  pleaded guilty  to money laundering charges from 2011 to 2017. Alexander Vinnik, 44, was charged in January 2017 and taken into custody in Greece in July 2017. He was subsequently  extradited  to the U.S. in August 2022. Vinnik and his co-conspirators have been accused of owning and managing BTC-e, which allowed its criminal customers to trade in Bitcoin with high levels of anonymity. BTC-e is said to have facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide, receiving illicit proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials, and narcotics distribution rings. The crypto exchange received more than $4 billion worth of bitcoin over the course of its operation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). It also processed over $9 billion-worth of transactions and served over one million users worldwide, several of them i

New Guide Explains How to Eliminate the Risk of Shadow SaaS and Protect Corporate Data

New Guide Explains How to Eliminate the Risk of Shadow SaaS and Protect Corporate Data
May 03, 2024 SaaS Security / Browser Security
SaaS applications are dominating the corporate landscape. Their increased use enables organizations to push the boundaries of technology and business. At the same time, these applications also pose a new security risk that security leaders need to address, since the existing security stack does not enable complete control or comprehensive monitoring of their usage. LayerX has recently released a new guide, " Let There Be Light: Eliminating the Risk of Shadow SaaS " for security and IT teams, which addresses this gap. The guide explains the challenges of shadow SaaS, i.e., the use of unauthorized SaaS apps for work purposes, and suggests practices and controls that can mitigate them. The guide also compares various security controls that attempt to address this risk (CASB, SASE, Secure Browser Extension) and explains how each one operates and its efficacy. Consequently, the guide is a must-read for all security leaders at modern organizations. Here are the main highlights:

Google Announces Passkeys Adopted by Over 400 Million Accounts

Google Announces Passkeys Adopted by Over 400 Million Accounts
May 03, 2024 Passwordless / Encryption
Google on Thursday announced that passkeys are being used by over 400 million Google accounts, authenticating users more than 1 billion times  over the past two years . "Passkeys are easy to use and phishing resistant, only relying on a fingerprint, face scan or a pin making them 50% faster than passwords," Heather Adkins, vice president of security engineering at Google,  said . The search giant notes that passkeys are already used for authentication on Google Accounts more often than legacy forms of two-factor authentication, such as SMS one-time passwords (OTPs) and app based OTPs combined. In addition, the company said it's expanding  Cross-Account Protection , which alerts of suspicious events with third-party apps and services connected to a user's Google Account, to include more apps and services. Google is also expected to support the use of passkeys for high-risk users as part of its Advanced Protection Program (APP), which aims to safeguard people from

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SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike
May 13, 2024Threat Detection / SoC / SIEM
In the last decade, there has been a growing disconnect between front-line analysts and senior management in IT and Cybersecurity. Well-documented challenges facing modern analysts revolve around a high volume of alerts, false positives, poor visibility of technical environments, and analysts spending too much time on manual tasks. The Impact of Alert Fatigue and False Positives  Analysts are overwhelmed with alerts. The knock-on effect of this is that fatigued analysts are at risk of missing key details in incidents, and often conduct time-consuming triaging tasks manually only to end up copying and pasting a generic closing comment into a false positive alert.  It is likely that there will always be false positives. And many would argue that a false positive is better than a false negative. But for proactive actions to be made, we must move closer to the heart of an incident. That requires diving into how analysts conduct the triage and investigation process. SHQ Response Platfo

Google Sues App Developers Over Fake Crypto Investment App Scam

Google Sues App Developers Over Fake Crypto Investment App Scam
Apr 08, 2024 Investment Scam / Mobile Security
Google has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against two app developers for allegedly engaging in an "international online consumer investment fraud scheme" that tricked users into downloading bogus Android apps from the Google Play Store and other sources and stealing their funds under the guise of promising higher returns. The individuals in question are Yunfeng Sun (aka Alphonse Sun) and Hongnam Cheung (aka Zhang Hongnim or Stanford Fischer), who are believed to be based in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, respectively. The defendants are said to have uploaded about 87 crypto apps to the Play Store to pull off the social engineering scam since at least 2019, with over 100,000 users downloading them and leading to substantial financial losses. "The gains conveyed by the apps were illusory," the tech giant said in its complaint. "And the scheme did not end there." "Instead, when individual victims attempted to withdraw their balances, defendants and their co

Ukraine Arrests Trio for Hijacking Over 100 Million Email and Instagram Accounts

Ukraine Arrests Trio for Hijacking Over 100 Million Email and Instagram Accounts
Mar 20, 2024 Cybercrime / Dark Web
The Cyber Police of Ukraine has  arrested  three individuals on suspicion of hijacking more than 100 million emails and Instagram accounts from users across the world. The suspects, aged between 20 and 40, are said to be part of an organized criminal group living in different parts of the country. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison. The accounts, authorities said, were taken over by carrying out brute-force attacks, which employ trial-and-error methods to guess login credentials. The group operated under the direction of a leader, who distributed the hacking tasks to other members. The cybercrime group subsequently monetized their ill-gotten credentials by putting them up for sale on dark web forums. Other threat actors who purchased the information used the compromised accounts to conduct a variety of  fraudulent schemes , including those in which scammers reach out to the victim's friends to urgently transfer money to their bank account. "You can protect

E-Root Marketplace Admin Sentenced to 42 Months for Selling 350K Stolen Credentials

E-Root Marketplace Admin Sentenced to 42 Months for Selling 350K Stolen Credentials
Mar 19, 2024 Threat Intel / Cybercrime
A 31-year-old Moldovan national has been sentenced to 42 months in prison in the U.S. for operating an illicit marketplace called E-Root Marketplace that offered for sale hundreds of thousands of compromised credentials, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced. Sandu Boris Diaconu was charged with conspiracy to commit access device and computer fraud and possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices. He pleaded guilty on December 1, 2023. "The E-Root Marketplace operated across a widely distributed network and took steps to hide the identities of its administrators, buyers, and sellers," the DoJ  said  last week. "Buyers could search for compromised computer credentials on E-Root, such as usernames and passwords that would allow buyers to access remote computers for purposes of stealing private information or manipulating the contents of the remote computer." Prospective customers could also search for RDP and SSH credentials based on various filter c

Over 225,000 Compromised ChatGPT Credentials Up for Sale on Dark Web Markets

Over 225,000 Compromised ChatGPT Credentials Up for Sale on Dark Web Markets
Mar 05, 2024 Malware / Artificial Intelligence
More than 225,000 logs containing compromised OpenAI ChatGPT credentials were made available for sale on underground markets between January and October 2023, new findings from Group-IB show. These credentials were found within  information stealer logs  associated with LummaC2, Raccoon, and RedLine stealer malware. "The number of infected devices decreased slightly in mid- and late summer but grew significantly between August and September," the Singapore-headquartered cybersecurity company  said  in its Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2023/2024 report published last week. Between June and October 2023, more than 130,000 unique hosts with access to OpenAI ChatGPT were infiltrated, a 36% increase over what was observed during the first five months of 2023. The breakdown by the top three stealer families is below - LummaC2 - 70,484 hosts Raccoon - 22,468 hosts RedLine - 15,970 hosts "The sharp increase in the number of ChatGPT credentials for sale is due to the overall rise in the numbe

How Businesses Can Safeguard Their Communication Channels Against Hackers

How Businesses Can Safeguard Their Communication Channels Against Hackers
Feb 17, 2024 Cybersecurity / Risk Mitigation
Efficient communication is a cornerstone of business success. Internally, making sure your team communicates seamlessly helps you avoid friction losses, misunderstandings, delays, and overlaps. Externally, frustration-free customer communication is directly correlated to a positive customer experience and higher satisfaction.  However, business communication channels are also a major target for cybercriminals. In recent years, especially since the pandemic, the number of cyberattacks has skyrocketed.  Statistics show  that last year alone, the number of hacks shot up by 38%. Worse, it still takes a business 277 days on average to identify a breach, causing a loss of $4.35 on average. So, how can businesses safeguard their communication channels against hackers, while still providing the best possible experience for customers and maintaining team productivity? Here's everything you need to know – and which  mistakes you need to avoid . Use Secure Platforms  To begin with, there is

Chinese Hackers Using Deepfakes in Advanced Mobile Banking Malware Attacks

Chinese Hackers Using Deepfakes in Advanced Mobile Banking Malware Attacks
Feb 15, 2024 Banking Trojan / Cybercrime
A Chinese-speaking threat actor codenamed  GoldFactory  has been attributed to the development of highly sophisticated banking trojans, including a previously undocumented iOS malware called GoldPickaxe that's capable of harvesting identity documents, facial recognition data, and intercepting SMS. "The GoldPickaxe family is available for both iOS and Android platforms," Singapore-headquartered Group-IB  said  in an extensive report shared with The Hacker News. "GoldFactory is believed to be a well-organized Chinese-speaking cybercrime group with close connections to  Gigabud ." Active since at least mid-2023, GoldFactory is also responsible for another Android-based banking malware called  GoldDigger  and its enhanced variant GoldDiggerPlus as well as GoldKefu, an embedded trojan inside GoldDiggerPlus. Social engineering campaigns distributing the malware have been found to target the Asia-Pacific region, specifically Thailand and Vietnam, by masquerading as

Google Starts Blocking Sideloading of Potentially Dangerous Android Apps in Singapore

Google Starts Blocking Sideloading of Potentially Dangerous Android Apps in Singapore
Feb 08, 2024 Data Protection / Mobile Securit
Google has unveiled a new pilot program in Singapore that aims to prevent users from sideloading certain apps that abuse Android app permissions to read one-time passwords and gather sensitive data. "This enhanced fraud protection will analyze and automatically block the installation of apps that may use sensitive runtime permissions frequently abused for financial fraud when the user attempts to install the app from an Internet-sideloading source (web browsers, messaging apps or file managers)," the company  said . The feature is designed to examine the permissions declared by a third-party app in real-time and look for those that seek to gain access to sensitive permissions associated with reading SMS messages, deciphering or dismissing notifications from legitimate apps, and accessibility services that have been  routinely   abused  by Android-based malware for  extracting valuable information . As part of the test, users in Singapore who attempt to sideload such apps

Belarusian National Linked to BTC-e Faces 25 Years for $4 Billion Crypto Money Laundering

Belarusian National Linked to BTC-e Faces 25 Years for $4 Billion Crypto Money Laundering
Feb 05, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Financial Fraud
A 42-year-old Belarusian and Cypriot national with alleged connections to the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e is facing charges related to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business. Aliaksandr Klimenka , who was arrested in Latvia on December 21, 2023, was extradited to the U.S. and is currently being held in custody. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. BTC-e, which had been operating since 2011, was seized by law enforcement authorities in late July 2017 following the arrest of another key member  Alexander Vinnik , in Greece. The exchange is alleged to have received deposits valued at over $4 billion, with Vinnik laundering funds received from the hack of another digital exchange, Mt. Gox, through various online exchanges, including BTC-e. Court documents  allege  that the exchange was a "significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity," allowing its users to trade in bitcoin with high levels of

BreachForums Founder Sentenced to 20 Years of Supervised Release, No Jail Time

BreachForums Founder Sentenced to 20 Years of Supervised Release, No Jail Time
Jan 23, 2024 Cyber Crime / Dark Web
Conor Brian Fitzpatrick has been sentenced to time served and 20 years of supervised release for his role as the creator and administrator of BreachForums. Fitzpatrick, who went by the online alias "pompompurin," was arrested in March 2023 in New York and was subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and possession of child pornography. He was later released on a $300,000 bond, and in July 2023, he pleaded guilty to the charges. BreachForums was a major cyber crime marketplace that facilitated the trafficking of stolen data since March 2022. Prior to its shutdown exactly a year later, the website boasted of over 340,000 members. Among the stolen items commonly sold on the platform were bank account information, Social Security numbers, personally identifying information (PII), hacking tools, breached databases, and account login information for compromised online accounts with service providers and merchants. BreachForums also advertised servic

DoJ Charges 19 Worldwide in $68 Million xDedic Dark Web Marketplace Fraud

DoJ Charges 19 Worldwide in $68 Million xDedic Dark Web Marketplace Fraud
Jan 08, 2024 Financial Fraud / Cybercrime
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said it charged 19 individuals worldwide in connection with the now-defunct xDedic Marketplace , which is estimated to have facilitated more than $68 million in fraud. In  wrapping up its investigation  into the dark web portal, the agency said the transnational operation was the result of close cooperation with law enforcement authorities from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Europol. Of the 19 defendants, three have been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison, eight have been awarded jail terms ranging from one year to five years, and one individual has been ordered to serve five years' probation. One among them includes Glib Oleksandr Ivanov-Tolpintsev, a Ukrainian national who was  sentenced to four years in prison  in May 2022 for selling compromised credentials on xDedic and making $82,648 in illegal profits. Dariy Pankov, described by the DoJ as one of the highest sellers by volume, offered credentials of no less than 35,000 ha

German Authorities Dismantle Dark Web Hub 'Kingdom Market' in Global Operation

German Authorities Dismantle Dark Web Hub 'Kingdom Market' in Global Operation
Dec 21, 2023 Dark Web / Cybercrime
German law enforcement has announced the disruption of a dark web platform called  Kingdom Market  that specialized in the sales of narcotics and malware to "tens of thousands of users." The  exercise , which involved collaboration from authorities from the U.S., Switzerland, Moldova, and Ukraine, began on December 16, 2023, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said. Kingdom Market is said to have been accessible over the TOR and Invisible Internet Project (I2P) anonymization networks since at least March 2021, trafficking in illegal narcotics as well as advertising malware, criminal services, and forged documents. As many as 42,000 products have been sold via several hundred seller accounts on the English language platform prior to its takedown, with 3,600 of them originating from Germany.  Transactions on the Kingdom Market were facilitated through cryptocurrency payments in the form of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, and Zcash, with the website operators receiving a 3

Alert: Chinese-Speaking Hackers Pose as UAE Authority in Latest Smishing Wave

Alert: Chinese-Speaking Hackers Pose as UAE Authority in Latest Smishing Wave
Dec 20, 2023 Identity Theft / SMS Phishing
The Chinese-speaking threat actors behind  Smishing Triad  have been observed masquerading as the United Arab Emirates Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship to send malicious SMS messages with the ultimate goal of gathering sensitive information from residents and foreigners in the country. "These criminals send malicious links to their victims' mobile devices through SMS or iMessage and use URL-shortening services like Bit.ly to randomize the links they send," Resecurity  said  in a report published this week. "This helps them protect the fake website's domain and hosting location." Smishing Triad was  first documented  by the cybersecurity company in September 2023, highlighting the group's use of compromised Apple iCloud accounts to send smishing messages for carrying out identity theft and financial fraud.  The threat actor is also known to offer ready-to-use smishing kits for sale to other cybercriminals for $200 a month, alongside eng

Microsoft Takes Legal Action to Crack Down on Storm-1152's Cybercrime Network

Microsoft Takes Legal Action to Crack Down on Storm-1152's Cybercrime Network
Dec 14, 2023 Cybercrime / Threat intelligence
Microsoft on Wednesday said it obtained a court order to seize infrastructure set up by a group called Storm-1152 that peddled roughly 750 million fraudulent Microsoft accounts and tools through a network of bogus websites and social media pages to other criminal actors, netting the operators millions of dollars in illicit revenue. "Fraudulent online accounts act as the gateway to a host of cybercrime, including mass phishing, identity theft and fraud, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks," Amy Hogan-Burney, the company's associate general counsel for cybersecurity policy and protection,  said . These cybercrime-as-a-service (CaaS) offerings, per Redmond, are designed to get around identity verification software across various technology platforms and help minimize the efforts needed to conduct malicious activities online, including phishing, spamming, ransomware, and fraud, effectively lowering the barriers to entry for attackers. Multiple threat actors,

34 Cybercriminals Arrested in Spain for Multi-Million Dollar Online Scams

34 Cybercriminals Arrested in Spain for Multi-Million Dollar Online Scams
Oct 24, 2023 Cyber Fraud / Cyber Crime
Spanish law enforcement officials have  announced  the arrest of 34 members of a criminal group that carried out various online scams, netting the gang about €3 million ($3.2 million) in illegal profits. Authorities conducted searches across 16 locations Madrid, Malaga, Huelva, Alicante, and Murcia, seizing two simulated firearms, a katana sword, a baseball bat, €80,000 in cash, four high-end vehicles, and computer and electronic material worth thousands of euros. The operation also uncovered a database with cross-referenced information on four million people that was collated after infiltrating databases belonging to financial and credit institutions. The scams, which were conducted via email, SMS, and phone calls, entailed the threat actors masquerading as banks and electricity supply companies to defraud victims, in some cases even perpetrating  "son in distress" calls  and manipulating delivery notes from technology firms. In one instance, the miscreants reportedly
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