Recorded Future, a US-based cyber-security firm, claims to have uncovered the real world identity of a notorious hacker who, back in 2016, had been behind the sale and proliferation of a slew of user databases from companies such as MySpace, Badoo, Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Twitter, just to name a few.
The hacker’s pseudonym is Tessa88, but Recorded Future claims that behind this acronym stands a 29-year-old named Maksim Vladimirovich Donakov (Донаков, Максим Владимирович), from the town of Penza, Russia.
Tessa88 is mostly known for being one of two hackers –together with Peace_of_Mind– behind the string of so-called “mega breaches” that came to light in 2016.
Some of the databases that Tessa88 advertised online contained user data –and sometimes even passwords– from companies such as MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Badoo, QIP, Rambler, VKontakte, and Mobango. Peace_of_Mind also sold some of the same databases, but also others, unique to him.
But neither Tessa88, nor Peace_of_Mind, were the actual hackers who breached these companies. Both have said in multiple interviews given to news media outlets, including to this reporter, that they only acted as middlemen for a larger group of hackers who performed the actual hacks.
Both middlemen weren’t active for long. Researchers spotted the Tessa88 persona active and trying to sell the databases on underground hacking forums and Dark Web marketplaces only between February and May 2016.
But despite Tessa88’s limited activity, Recorded Future said today in a report that they’ve managed to interconnect several online identities to the Tessa88 moniker, and later to Maksim Donakov.
Researchers found YouTube videos, images uploaded on forums and Imgur, and three Odnoklassniki profiles (Russian social network service for classmates) that provided enough clues to identify Maksim Donakov as the person behind Tessa88. The two most important clues included:
Photos of Donakov’s face that were uploaded on multiple profiles, interlinking various of Tessa88’s alternative nicknames.
A YouTube video showing the car license plate for one of Tessa88’s alternate acronym’s, which was later linked to a traffic incident, revealing Donakov’s real name.
Below is an infographic shared by Recorded Future, detailing their findings.
As a side note, US prosecutors have already charged, arrested, and extradited to the US a Russian hacker, Yevgeniy Nikulin, who they accused of hacking into Dropbox and LinkedIn, two of the databases that Tessa88 had put up online for sale back in 2016.
Related cyber-security coverage:
Work from Home Security
Spin Master is a leading global children’s entertainment company that invents toys and games, produces dozens of television and studio series that are distributed in 160 countries, and creates a variety of digital games played by more than 30 million children. What was once a small private company founded by childhood friends is now a public global supply chain with over 1,500 employees and 28 offices around the world.
Like most organizations in 2020, Spin Master had to adapt quickly to the new normal of remote work, shifting most of its production from cubicles in regional and head offices to hundreds of employees working from home and other remote locations.
This dramatic shift created potential security risks, as most employees were no longer behind the firewall on the corporate network. Without the implementation of hardened endpoint security, the door would be open for bad actors to infiltrate the organization, acquire intellectual property, and ransom customer information. Additionally, the potential downtime caused by a security breach could harm the global supply chain. With that in mind, Spin Master created a self-imposed 30-day deadline to extend its network protection capabilities to the edge.
- Think Long Term: The initial goal of establishing a stop-gap work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere (WFA) strategy has since morphed into a permanent strategy, requiring long-term solutions.
- Gather Skills: The real urgency posed by the global pandemic made forging partnerships with providers that could fill all the required skill sets a top priority.
- Build Momentum: The compressed timeline left no room for delay or error. The Board of Directors threw its support behind the implementation team and gave it broad budget authority to ensure rapid action, while providing active guidance to align strategy with action.
- Deliver Value: The team established two key requirements that the selected partner must deliver: implementation support and establishing an ongoing managed security operations center (SOC).
Key Criteria for Evaluating Privileged Access Management
Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables administrative access to critical IT systems while minimizing the chances of security compromises through monitoring, policy enforcement, and credential management.
A key operating principle of all PAM systems is the separation of user credentials for individual staff members from the system administration credentials they are permitted to use. PAM solutions store and manage all of the privileged credentials, providing system access without requiring users to remember, or even know, the privileged password. Of course, all staff have their own unique user ID and password that they use to complete everyday tasks such as accessing email and writing documents. Users who are permitted to handle system administration tasks that require privileged credentials log into the PAM solution, which provides and controls such access according to predefined security policies. These policies control who is allowed to use which privileged credentials when, where, and for what tasks. An organization’s policy may also require logging and recording of the actions undertaken with the privileged credentials.
Once implemented, PAM will improve your security posture in several ways. The first is by segregating day-to-day duties from duties that require elevated access, reducing the risk of accidental privileged actions. Secondly, automated password management reduces the possibility that credentials will be shared while also lowering the risk if credentials are accidentally exposed. Finally, extensive logging and activity recording in PAM solutions aids audits of critical system access for both preventative and forensic security.
How to Read this Report
This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.
Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure
Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:
- Ease of deployment
- Outstanding ROI
- Overall TCO improvement
Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.
Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:
- Improving overall performance for backups
- Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
- Replacing components difficult to manage and support
In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.
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