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Malware that hunts for account credentials on adult websites tripled in 2018

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The number of detections for malware strains that hunt for login credentials on adult-themed websites tripled in 2018, while the number of adverts selling access to hacked accounts on porn portals doubled, according to a report published today by Kaspersky Labs.

“In 2018, the number of attacked users doubled, reaching more than 110,000 PCs across the world,” Kaspersky researchers said. “The number of attacks almost tripled, to 850,000 infection attempts.”

There were multiple malware families configured to search for login credentials on adult sites last year, however, according to Kaspersky, the most active was the Jimmy trojan, a lesser known malware family that is spread primarily via email spam.

This was somewhat surprising to researchers when compared to a year before, in 2017, when the most active strains were three very large cybercrime operations –namely the Betabot, Neverquest, and Panda banking trojans.

But this wasn’t the only major change in adult site login harvesting. Another new development was that in 2018 most porn login-hunting malware focused on stealing credentials from only two sites –Pornhub and XNXX.

This was different from the previous year when malware targeted more sites, such as the likes of Brazzers, Chaturbate, Pornhub, Myfreecams, Youporn, Wilshing, Motherless, XNXX, and X-videos.

The reason why cyber-criminal groups bothered collecting these credentials was that they were searching for premium accounts that they could later hijack from legitimate owners and put up for sale on underground forums and Dark Web marketplaces.

Premium accounts on adult portals can cost as much as $30 per month or $150 per year, but crooks are re-selling hacked ones for just a small portion of their original price.

“Regardless of the type of account, the prices vary from $3 to $9 per offer, very rarely exceeding $10 – the same as back in 2017, with the vast majority of prices being limited to $6-$7 or the equal amount in bitcoins, which is 20 times cheaper than the most modest annual memberships” researchers said.


Image: Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky said they analyzed the top 20 Dark Web marketplaces and found more than 3,000 offers for credentials to adult content websites.

Taking into account websites on the public internet, they found 29 websites hosting more than 15,000 packages for accounts on various adult portals, double the equivalent 2017 figure.

But besides the underground business of stealing and selling credentials of adult sites, the Kaspersky report also looked at other facets of the malware scene that abuses adult-themed lures and topics.

The report’s findings don’t shock anyone in the cyber-security field, where adult content is one of the main lures cyber-criminal groups prefer to use to attract users on malicious sites or trick into opening boobytrapped and malware-laced files. The rest of the Kaspersky findings are below:

  • Searching for pornography online has become safer: in 2018, 650,000 users faced attacks launched from online resources. That is 36% less than in 2017 when more than a million of these attacks were detected.
  • Cybercriminals are actively using popular porn-tags to promote malware in search results. The 20 most popular make up 80% of all malware disguised as porn. Overall, 87,227 unique users downloaded porn-disguised malware in 2018, with 8% of them using a corporate rather than personal network to do this.
  • In 2018, the number of attacks using malware to hunt for credentials that grant access to pornography websites grew almost three-fold compared to 2017, with more than 850,000 attempts to install such malware. The number of users attacked doubled, with 110,000 attacked PCs across the world.
  • The number of unique sales offers of credentials for premium accounts to adult content websites almost doubled to more than 10,000.
  • Porn-themed threats increased in terms of the number of samples, but declined in terms of variety: In 2018, Kaspersky Lab identified at least 642 families of PC threats disguised under one common pornography tag. In terms of their malicious function, these families were distributed between 57 types (76 last year). In most cases they are are Trojan-Downloaders, Trojans and AdWare.
  • 89% of infected files disguised as pornography on Android devices turned out to be AdWare.
  • In Q4 2018, there were 10 times as many attacks coming from phishing websites pretending to be popular adult content resources, compared to Q4 2017 when the overall figure reached 21,902 attacks.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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