Extra Helpings of Hacked Servers? Compromised Machines Hit Low Prices on the Dark Web

June 20, 2016 @ 8:51 AM
| |
2 min read

It’s a great time to be a cybercriminal, with preconfigured malware tools, ransomware kits and full-fledged bots all for sale on the Dark Web.

According to SC Magazine, the market is expanding, this time with access to more than 70,000 hacked servers. For just $6 a pop, would-be cybercriminals can get their hands on infected machines from a host of companies worldwide. Is this the start of a new malicious market vertical?

Supply and Demand for Hacked Servers

Cyber marketplaces have evolved over the last few years to full-service e-commerce ventures, many of which include top-notch customer service and guarantees about the authenticity of merchandise. Now, Kaspersky Lab has run across a relatively new venture named xDedic, which seemingly started up in 2014 and gained popularity last year.

As noted by Threatpost, this Dark Web market is selling both hacked servers and tools necessary to launch serious cyberattacks. For Kaspersky researcher Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, just finding this many servers for sale was a surprise, but it’s also interesting to note that the entire operation is “meticulously” managed by a Russian-speaking cybercrime group. This organization facilitates the meetup of various cybercrime affiliates to sell whichever stolen goods are in the highest demand.

Right now, that demand seems to be trending toward servers: For just $6 apiece, would-be attackers can get access to servers from 173 countries and across industries such as banking, dating, gambling and online shopping. What’s more, Dark Web users can search for specific details such as system information, antivirus type or admin privileges.

The xDedic marketplace also offers tools to make hacking easier, such as a solution that alters RDP configurations to allow multiple sessions. The result? When a sysadmin logs in, attackers are simultaneously connected but hidden from view.

Market Forces

While xDedic has now passed 18 months of operation — which CEO Paul Kraus of Eastwind Networks told SC Magazine “usually signals a startup will succeed” — other security experts aren’t so sure of its longevity. Red Cell Infosec CEO Dominique Davis told the source the market is potentially the work of an intelligence community designed to entrap rather than empower attackers.

For the moment, the jury’s out on the origin and ultimate purpose of xDedic, but there’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence suggesting that hacked servers are helping drive market forces.

A recent Network World piece noted that Dark Web-enabled insider threats are becoming a real problem as disgruntled employees take to the internet’s underbelly looking for alternate employment with criminal groups. Employees are making themselves known to attackers and in turn are being sought out for larger and more lucrative jobs.

There’s also word from Ars Technica that the Democratic National Committee recently had its servers hacked by a lone wolf named Guccifer 2.0, who published hundreds of pages to prove the theft.

Servers are under threat both inside and out — and they’re grabbed easily enough that they go for less than the price of lunch. Whether a cybercriminal heaven or intelligence operation, xDedic represents a step forward for cybercrime: Servers available on demand in the dark for pennies on the dollar.

Douglas Bonderud
Freelance Writer

A freelance writer for three years, Doug Bonderud is a Western Canadian with expertise in the fields of technology and innovation. In addition to working for...
read more