Report: Shadowy Russian hacker group hijacked 1.2 billion usernames, passwords
A Wisconsin security firm claims that a Russian criminal group has accumulated the largest known collection of stolen online usernames and passwords via SQL injections, according to a new report in The New York Times on Tuesday.
Hold Security, which did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, apparently has 1.2 billion usernames and passwords across 420,000 sites. It declined to tell The Times which companies were affected, nor name the group specifically.
In February 2014, Hold Security also discovered 360 million compromised login credentials for sale in underground crime forums. The haul, which included an additional 1.25 billion records containing only e-mail addresses, came from multiple breaches. In October 2013, the same firm discovered the circulation of 153 million user names and passwords stolen during a massive breach of Adobe’s corporate network. A month later, the security firm uncovered 42 million plaintext passwords taken during a hack on niche dating service Cupid Media.
“Hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites,” Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, told The Times. “And most of these sites are still vulnerable.”
The group appears not related to the point-of-sale breaches that have taken place at Target and other major American retailers.
According to The Times:
The hacking ring is based in a small city in south central Russia, the region flanked by Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The group includes fewer than a dozen men in their 20s who know one another personally — not just virtually. Their computer servers are believed to be in Russia.
“There is a division of labor within the gang,” Mr. Holden said. “Some are writing the programming, some are stealing the data. It’s like you would imagine a small company; everyone is trying to make a living.”
They began as amateur spammers in 2011, buying stolen databases of personal information on the black market. But in April, the group accelerated its activity. Mr. Holden surmised they partnered with another entity, whom he has not identified, that may have shared hacking techniques and tools.
The disclosure of this new unnamed group comes as three major computer security conferences are under way this week in Las Vegas: Black Hat, Def Con, and PasswordsCon. Ars will be reporting from all of them in the days ahead.