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Actual Crooks Signal Their Malware – Krebs on Safety

Code-signing certificates are supposed to assist authenticate the identification of software program publishers, and supply cryptographic assurance {that a} signed piece of software program has not been altered or tampered with. Each of those qualities make stolen or ill-gotten code-signing certificates enticing to cybercriminal teams, who prize their potential so as to add stealth and longevity to malicious software program. This put up is a deep dive on “Megatraffer,” a veteran Russian hacker who has virtually cornered the underground marketplace for malware centered code-signing certificates since 2015.

One in every of Megatraffer’s adverts on an English-language cybercrime discussion board.

A assessment of Megatraffer’s posts on Russian crime boards exhibits this consumer started peddling particular person stolen code-signing certs in 2015 on the Russian-language discussion board Exploit, and shortly expanded to promoting certificates for cryptographically signing functions and information designed to run in Microsoft Home windows, Java, Adobe AIR, Mac and Microsoft Workplace.

Megatraffer defined that malware purveyors want a certificates as a result of many antivirus merchandise shall be much more keen on unsigned software program, and since signed information downloaded from the Web don’t are likely to get blocked by safety features constructed into fashionable net browsers. Moreover, newer variations of Microsoft Home windows will complain with a shiny yellow or pink alert message if customers attempt to set up a program that isn’t signed.

“Why do I want a certificates?” Megatraffer requested rhetorically of their Jan. 2016 gross sales thread on Exploit. “Antivirus software program trusts signed packages extra. For some forms of software program, a digital signature is necessary.”

On the time, Megatraffer was promoting distinctive code-signing certificates for $700 apiece, and charging greater than twice that quantity ($1,900) for an “prolonged validation” or EV code-signing cert, which is meant to solely include extra identification vetting of the certificates holder. In response to Megatraffer, EV certificates had been a “must-have” in the event you needed to signal malicious software program or {hardware} drivers that will reliably work in newer Home windows working programs.

A part of Megatraffer’s advert. Picture:

Megatraffer has continued to supply their code-signing companies throughout greater than a half-dozen different Russian-language cybercrime boards, largely within the type of sporadically accessible EV and non-EV code-signing certificates from main distributors like Thawte and Comodo.

Extra not too long ago, it seems Megatraffer has been working with ransomware teams to assist enhance the stealth of their malware. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, somebody leaked a number of years of inner chat logs from the Conti ransomware gang, and people logs present Megatraffer was working with the group to assist code-sign their malware between July and October 2020.


In response to cyber intelligence agency Intel 471, Megatraffer has been lively on greater than a half-dozen crime boards from September 2009 to the current day. And on most of those identities, Megatraffer has used the e-mail deal with That very same electronic mail deal with is also tied to 2 discussion board accounts for a consumer with the deal with “O.R.Z.”

Constella Intelligence, an organization that tracks uncovered databases, finds that was utilized in reference to only a handful of passwords, however most steadily the password “featar24“. Pivoting off of that password reveals a handful of electronic mail addresses, together with

Intel 471 exhibits was used to register one other O.R.Z. consumer account — this one on Verified[.]ru in 2008. Previous to that, was used as the e-mail deal with for the account “Fitis,” which was lively on Exploit between September 2006 and Might 2007. Constella discovered the password “featar24” additionally was used along side the e-mail deal with, which is tied to yet one more O.R.Z. account on Carder[.]su from 2008.

The e-mail deal with was used to create a Livejournal weblog profile named Fitis that has a big bear as its avatar. In November 2009, Fitis wrote, “I’m the proper legal. My fingerprints change past recognition each few days. At the least my laptop computer is certain of it.”

Fitis’s Livejournal account. Picture:

Fitis’s real-life identification was uncovered in 2010 after two of the most important sponsors of pharmaceutical spam went to battle with one another, and enormous volumes of inner paperwork, emails and chat data seized from each spam empires had been leaked to this creator. That protracted and public battle fashioned the backdrop of my 2014 ebook — “Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime, from International Epidemic to Your Entrance Door.

One of many leaked paperwork included a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing the true names, addresses, cellphone numbers, emails, avenue addresses and WebMoney addresses for dozens of prime earners in Spamit — on the time essentially the most profitable pharmaceutical spam associates program within the Russian hacking scene and one which employed most of the prime Russian botmasters.

That doc exhibits Fitis was one among Spamit’s most prolific recruiters, bringing greater than 75 associates to the Spamit program over a number of years previous to its implosion in 2010 (and incomes commissions on any future gross sales from all 75 associates).

The doc additionally says Fitis obtained paid utilizing a WebMoney account that was created when its proprietor offered a sound Russian passport for a Konstantin Evgenievich Fetisov, born Nov. 16, 1982 and residing in Moscow. Russian motorized vehicle data present two totally different autos are registered to this individual on the similar Moscow deal with.

Essentially the most fascinating area identify registered to the e-mail deal with, fittingly sufficient, is fitis[.]ru, which says was registered in 2005 to a Konstantin E. Fetisov from Moscow.

The Wayback Machine at has a handful of largely clean pages listed for fitis[.]ru in its early years, however for a quick interval in 2007 it seems this web site was inadvertently exposing all of its file directories to the Web.

One of many uncovered information — Glavmed.html — is a common invitation to the notorious Glavmed pharmacy associates program, a now-defunct scheme that paid tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to associates who marketed on-line tablet outlets primarily by hacking web sites and manipulating search engine outcomes. Glavmed was operated by the identical Russian cybercriminals who ran the Spamit program.

A Google translated advert circa 2007 recruiting for the pharmacy associates program Glavmed, which informed candidates to contact the ICQ quantity utilized by Fitis, a.ok.a. MegaTraffer. Picture: exhibits the fitis[.]ru webpage with the Glavmed invitation was constantly up to date with new invite codes. Of their message to would-be Glavmed associates, this system administrator requested candidates to contact them on the ICQ quantity 165540027, which Intel 471 discovered was an on the spot messenger deal with beforehand utilized by Fitis on Exploit.

The uncovered information within the archived model of fitis[.]ru embrace supply code for malicious software program, lists of compromised web sites used for pharmacy spam, and a handful of what are apparently private information and photographs. Among the many photographs is a 2007 picture labeled merely “fitis.jpg,” which exhibits a bespectacled, bearded younger man with a ponytail standing subsequent to what seems to be a newly-married couple at a marriage ceremony.

Mr. Fetisov didn’t reply to requests for remark.

As a veteran organizer of affiliate packages, Fitis didn’t waste a lot time constructing a brand new moneymaking collective after Spamit closed up store. New York Metropolis-based cyber intelligence agency Flashpoint discovered that Megatraffer’s ICQ was the contact quantity for Himba[.]ru, a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) program launched in 2012 that paid handsomely for accomplished software kinds tied to quite a lot of monetary devices, together with shopper bank cards, insurance coverage insurance policies, and loans.

“Megatraffer’s entrenched presence on cybercrime boards strongly means that malicious means are used to supply at the very least a portion of visitors delivered to HIMBA’s advertisers,” Flashpoint noticed in a risk report on the actor.

Intel 471 finds that Himba was an lively associates program till round Might 2019, when it stopping paying its associates.

Fitis’s Himba associates program, circa February 2014. Picture:

Flashpoint notes that in September 2015, Megatraffer posted a job advert on Exploit looking for skilled coders to work on browser plugins, installers and “loaders” — principally distant entry trojans (RATs) that set up communication between the attacker and a compromised system.

“The actor specified that he’s in search of full-time, onsite assist both in his Moscow or Kiev places,” Flashpoint wrote.



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