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Old Magecart web domains resurrected for fraudulent ad schemes

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Think smaller DDoS attacks aren’t a real threat? Think again
Distributed Denial of Service attacks are getting smaller — but they’re still getting more dangerous.

Domains once used in card-skimming attacks launched by threat actors under the Magecart umbrella are being repurposed for new ad fraud campaigns, researchers say. 

Magecart, once a term attributed to a single threat group, now encompasses multiple attackers using the same kinds of tactics to compromise online merchants and services which use payment portals. 

British Airways, Newegg, MyPillow, Ticketmaster, and Feedify are only some of the brand names now connected to successful, JavaScript-based card skimming campaigns. 

Countless US campus stores have also fallen victim to Magecart attacks, and in recent months, Magecart attackers have also used “spray and pray” tactics to compromise thousands of websites by focusing on vulnerable S3 buckets. 

E-commerce-based card-skimming attacks leverage website vulnerabilities and JavaScript code to harvest payment card details from customers. In Magecart’s case, skimmers are present on a website for an average of two months before detection. 

As Magecart attacks are detected, the domains facilitating the transfer of stolen data and the domains used as repositories for malicious code are reported, sinkholed, and seized. 

See also: Ubisoft to send out cease & desist requests to DDoS-for-hire services

However, according to RiskIQ, these malicious domains are eventually released back into the pool of available domains — and many are being snapped up for new attack varieties by fraudsters. 

On Thursday, cybersecurity researchers said that when the Magecart domains appear back online, “they retain their call-outs to malicious domains placed on breached websites by attackers, which means they also retain their value to threat actors.”

In other words, domains previously connected to campaigns can be re-purchased to resurrect old attacks or for use in new schemes — such as the generation of income through malvertising and ad fraud. 

Malvertising is the compromise of ad networks and space on legitimate domains to deploy malware or redirect victims to malicious websites. The term can also be used to describe fraudulent ways to make money from ad networks, such as the infection of systems to force users to watch ads or to unwittingly provide traffic to advert pages, thereby generating illicit income for fraudsters. 

RiskIQ says that some old Magecart domains are being used for these purposes. 

In one case tracked by the team, in 2017, a Magecart threat actor registered a domain to serve malicious JavaScript to infected websites. The domain was sinkholed in 2018, and once expired by the registrar, four weeks later a “shady” advertiser purchased the domain. 

CNET: Keep Firefox from leaking your data across the nternet

Once in the fraudster’s control, the exact call once used to grab skimmer code was now set to work for use in monetization. Instead of reloading the path with information-stealing malicious code, the new owners injected an advertisement page instead. 

“The new owners of the domain are also serving that JavaScript file path, which they wouldn’t be doing unless they knew what its purpose was and how they could use it for their own monetization,” RiskIQ says. 

Counters along these paths have also been spotted, which suggests the owners of the old Magecart domain have done this more than once and want to measure the size of their fraudulent ad audience. 

TechRepublic: 1Password releases security tool designed for businesses

The so-called advertising secondary market for old Magecart domains might not be facilitating the fresh deployment of malware at present to revitalize old card-skimming campaigns, but the use of previous Magecart domains for ad space due to the traffic coming back to them is still fraudulent. 

“While ads themselves aren’t malicious, they are exploiting the vulnerabilities in websites while the site owners don’t benefit,” the researchers say. “Moreover, in the future, threat actors may also engage in other schemes and threat activity far more malicious than advertising.”

RiskIQ says that it is not possible to keep a website “clean forever,” but with Magecart attacks becoming such a prevalent threat over the past few years, “dutiful vigilance and maintenance” is the only way to prevent follow-up schemes prompted by the secondary market for old malicious domains. 

Previous and related coverage


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Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

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.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

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.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

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.

Continue Reading

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