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Eight years later, the case against the Mariposa malware gang moves forward in the US



Eight years after US law enforcement opened a first case in the operations of the Mariposa (Butterfly Bot, BFBOT) malware gang, officials are now moving forward with new charges and arrest warrants against four suspects.

The original case started way back in May 2011, when US officials first filed a complaint against three European hackers. The investigation into this group’s operations unearthed a cyber-crime empire and eventually led to the takedown of the infamous Darkode hacking forum, a famous meeting place for high-end hackers.

Last week, US officials unsealed new documents in this investigation, including charges against a fourth, US-based hacker.

The four suspects now are:

  • Matjaz Skorjanc, aka iserdo aka serdo, 32, of Maribor, Slovenia;
  • Florencio Carro Ruiz, aka NeTK aka Netkairo, 40, of Vizcaya, Spain;
  • Mentor Leniqi, aka Iceman, 35, of Gurisnica, Slovenia;
  • Thomas McCormick, aka fubar, 26, of Washington state, in the United States.

Mariposa malware

According to new court documents obtained by ZDNet, the four are charged with creating and running the Mariposa malware (referred to as the Butterfly Bot or BFBOT in court documents; “mariposa” meaning “butterfly” in Spanish).

More specifically, US officials say Skorjanc created the malware and then partnered with Ruiz and Leniqi to advertise it on Darkode, a hacking forum that Skorjanc helped created and manage.

US officials say the three put the malware up for sale on Darkode for a price of €350 starting in 2008. According to its ad, the malware could self-propagate to other computers once it infected a victim, could steal banking credentials, and could carry out DDOS attacks.

Skorjanc was the malware’s author, but Ruiz and Leniqi provided customer support and assistance.

McCormick was a Darkode user who bought and later resold the Mariposa bot as an affiliate. He also sold copies of the Zeus banking trojan, and also worked as a “sales manager” for another malware strain named ngrBot, created by two other unnamed suspects.

The four not only sold copies of the Mariposa bot, but they also actively infected victims and sold access to the infected hosts in “pay-per-install” schemes that let other cyber-criminals install additional malware on these systems, such as ransomware or banking trojans.

Mariposa and Darkode takedown

In the short span of only two years, Mariposa became one of the largest botnets in existence, infecting over one million computers.

The botnet grew too much to be ignored, and was more aggresive than most, because of its self-propagating features. Spanish police, working with the FBI, shut down the Mariposa botnet in 2010.

The takedown was coordinated with arrests, with Spanish authorities arresting Ruiz and two others co-conspirators, while Slovenian police arrested Skorjanc and his girlfriend.

Skorjanc received a four years and ten months prison sentence in December 2013 and was released from prison by Slovenian authorities last year.

However, work on investigating Mariposa operations also pointed authorities towards the place it was being sold on, the Darkode hacking forum.

Even to this day, the name Darkode maintains its reputation as being one of the web’s most notorious hacking forums. The forum had no more than 300 users, but they were all high-end hackers, such as the creator of the Dendroid malware, the creator of the GovRAT malware (also known as BestBuy or Popopret), the author of the SpyEYE malware, Lizard Squad members, and various spammer groups.

In the summer of 2015, the FBI, Europol, and police agencies all over the world shut down Skorjanc’s second creation — the Darkode forum — and made over 70 arrests.

Delayed charges

The reasons why US officials kept charges against Skorjanc, Ruiz, Leniqi, and McCormick sealed until 2019 are unclear. It may be that they wanted to wait for Skorjanc to serve his prison sentence in Slovenia.

It may also be that they wanted to incorporate the data from the Darkode seizure into their case, which appears they did. The new court documents are brimming with citations to private messages the four had exchanged on Darkode forum, not included in the original 2011 complaint.

While McCormick is already in US custody, being arrested since December 2018, Skorjanc, Leniqi, and Ruiz still remain at large.

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Managing Vulnerabilities in a Cloud Native World



This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in Cloud Native Vulnerability Management, featuring analyst Iben Rodriguez and special guest from Palo Alto Networks, John Morello. The discussion will focus on optimizing cloud security posture and integration with enterprise tool sets.

We will review platforms delivering Security Posture Management and Workload Protection for Microservice based and Hybrid Cloud Workloads.

Registrants will learn how new customers can benefit from Prisma Cloud to better secure their complex multi-cloud environments. Existing customers will learn about new features they can take advantage of and how to optimize their limited resources.

Register now to join GigaOm and Palo Alto Networks for this free expert webinar.

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Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together



Software development teams are increasingly focused on identifying and mitigating any issues as quickly and completely as possible. This relates not only to software quality but also software security. Different organizations are at different levels when it comes to having their development teams and security teams working in concert, but the simple fact remains that there are far more developers out there than security engineers.

Those factors are leading organizations to consider security tooling and automation to proactively discover and resolve any software security issues throughout the development process. In the recent report, “GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools,” Shea Stewart examines a roundup of security tools aimed at software development teams.

Stewart identified three critical criteria to bear in mind when evaluating developer security tools. These include:

  • Vendors providing tools to improve application security can and should also enhance an organization’s overall security posture.
  • The prevailing “shift-left” mindset doesn’t necessarily mean the responsibility for reducing risk should shift to development, but instead focusing on security earlier in the process and continuing to do so throughout the development process will reduce risk and the need for extensive rework.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical for any organization focused on reducing risk.

Figure 1. How Cybersecurity Applies Across Each Stage of the Software Development Lifecycle *Note: This report focuses only on the Developer Security Tooling area

Individual vendors have made varying levels of progress and innovation toward enhancing developer security. Following several acquisitions, Red Hat, Palo Alto Networks, and Rapid7 have all added tooling for developer security to their platforms. Stewart sees a couple of the smaller vendors like JFrog and Sonatype as continuing to innovate to remain ahead of the market.

Vendors delving into this category and moving deeper into “DevSecOps” all seem to be taking different approaches to their enhanced security tooling. While they are involving security in every aspect of the development process, some tend to be moving more quickly to match the pace of the SDLC. Others are trying to shore up existing platforms by adding functionality through acquisition. Both infrastructure and software developers are now sharing toolsets and processes, so these development security tools must account for the requirements of both groups.

While none of the 12 vendors evaluated in this report can provide comprehensive security throughout the entire SDLC, they all have their particular strengths and areas of focus. It is therefore incumbent upon the organization to fully and accurately assess its SDLC, involve the development and security teams, and match the unique requirements with the functionality provided by these tools. Even if it involves using more than one at different points throughout the process, focus on striking a balance between stringent security and simplifying the development process.

Read more: Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools, and the Gigaom Radar for Developer Security Tool Companies.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)



Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary practice that not only grows in complexity annually but evolves nearly as quickly. A survey of the security landscape today would reveal concerns ranging from the classic compromised servers to the relatively new DevSecOps practices aimed at securing the rapid deployment of new code and infrastructure. However, some things remain constant no matter how much change is introduced. While technology evolves and complexity varies, there is almost always a human component in
risks presented to an organization.

User Behavior Analysis (UBA) was designed to analyze the actions of users in an organization and attempt to identify normal and abnormal behaviors. From this analysis, malicious or risky behaviors can be detected. UBA solutions identify events that are not detectable using other methods because, unlike classic security tools (an IDS or SIEM for example), UBA does not simply pattern match or apply rule sets to data to identify security events. Instead, it looks for any and all deviations from baseline user activity.

As technology advanced and evolved, and the scope of what is connected to the network grew, the need to analyze entities other than users emerged. In response, entity analysis has been added to UBA to create UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analysis. The strategy remains the same, but the scope of analysis has expanded to include entities involving things like daemons, processes, infrastructure, and so on.

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.

Solution 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.

The post Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) appeared first on Gigaom.

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