CCC News


IT and Cyber Security News Update from

Centre for Research and Prevention of Computer Crimes, India


Courtesy - Sysman Computers Private Limited, Mumbai (

Since June 2005                                         December 17, 2014                                          Issue no 1520

Tenth year of uninterrupted publication

Today’s edition – 



TERROR : Sony scraps 'The Interview' release; North Korea blamed for hack

INITIATIVE : A new GCHQ-NCA unit will catch pedophiles in the Deep Web in UK

FORECAST : 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2015

IT Term of the day

Quote of the day


(Click on heading above to jump to related item. Click on “Top” to be back here)




Fake credential, premier credit cards, and 100% satisfaction, guaranteed

By John Leyden

15 Dec 2014


Underground hacker markets are booming with counterfeit documents, premiere credit cards, hacker tutorials, and "complete satisfaction guarantees", according to a new report from Dell SecureWorks.


The means to create a false identity are easily purchased through the cracker bazaars. A fake social security card can be obtain for around $200, with supporting documents as additional proof of ID offered for an additional charge.


Between December last year and this June, over 1,500 fake driver’s licences were purchased from a criminal network monitored by Dell researchers at a net cost of $232,660.


Dell SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit (CTU) director of malware research Joe Stewart and SecureWorks network security analyst David Shear completed a similar study of the underground hacker market last year. They revisited the hacker underground to see if prices for stolen credit cards, fullz (a dossier of an individual's credentials which can be used to commit identity theft and fraud), bank accounts, and hacker services had gone up or down in price.


Shear and Stewart looked at dozens of hacker markets before focusing in on four or five of the most popular markets that garner a lot of traffic, because the bazaars have good reputations while offering a wide range of goods and services. Each souk offered good escrow services — so unscrupulous sellers aren't able to run off with punters' cash, because payment is only made when buyers confirm whatever they bought is valid and good.


Shoppers usually have 24 hours to cancel the purchase. These sites are commonly invite-only and international.


"These sites are global, and one really does not know where they are physically being hosted exactly," a spokesperson for Dell SecureWorks explained.


"And although all of the sites are in English, it is quite apparent when communicating with those selling the goods and services, that many of them are foreign, including Russian, Ukranian, Eastern European. English, even in the underground, seems to be the international business language."


The most significant difference between the current hacker underground markets, and those of 2013, is a boom in counterfeit documents to further enable fraud, including new identity kits, passports, utility bills, social security cards and driver licenses. counterfeit documents allow crooks to apply for bank loans, commit cheque fraud or attempt government fraud, among other scams.


In fact, underground hacker markets are taking more or more tricks from legitimate outlets - such as eBay - in order to establish trust amongst the dishonest, who are there to trade stolen credit cards and personal details.


Despite a series of law enforcement takedowns, underground hacker markets continue to flourish. Moreover, those that are left are getting ever more professional, for example by adopting reputation-based systems and even guarantees to would-be credit card fraudsters that they won't be ripped off, as Dell SecureWorks explains:


Some sellers are introducing a 100 per cent Satisfaction Guarantee; should a fake credit card fail to withdraw $200, sellers will replace the card if they can replicate the error message. The sellers provide terms and conditions with each purchase, specifying circumstances where they can replace a rejected card.


Markets are catering to beginners. Tutorials on hacking are becoming common purchases, from a simple tutorial for $1 to a complete hacking kit for $30. These kits act as a beginner’s guide to hacking, explaining how exploits work.


The underground market studied by the security researchers restricts the sale of compromised bank accounts to "verified purchaser with a good track record". A high-value account containing around $75,000 - including verified credentials - is sold at the much lower price of $4,200, Dell SecureWorks reports.


The price for Remote Access Trojans (RATs) is considerably cheaper this year than last. They are currently running from $20 to $50 and the most popular include: darkcomet, blackshades, cybernate, predator pain, and Dark DDoser. Last year, RATs ranged in price from $50 to $250.


The current price for hacking into a website ranges between $100 to $200. Last year, the cost was between $100 to $300. The current price for hiring a hacker to knock a website offline is also slightly reduced from last year's prices. DDoS attacks cost around $60-$90 per day.


Unlike last year, Dell SecureWorks' said they are not seeing a lot of Doxing Services for sale. Doxing is when a hacker is hired to get all the information they can about a target, through social engineering, malware, information on social media, the web or other sources. The few hackers selling Doxing services are charging between $25 to $100.



TERROR : Sony scraps 'The Interview' release; North Korea blamed for hack

Sony cancels release of "The Interview"

By Richard Verrier, Ryan Faughnder, Brian Bennett

December 17, 2014


Sony Pictures Entertainment's extraordinary decision to scrap the Christmas release of "The Interview" came amid mounting pressure from powerful theater owners and other studios concerned that the film's release could keep moviegoers away from multiplexes during the holidays, one of the most lucrative periods for Hollywood.


The action came as U.S. intelligence officials confirmed widespread speculation that the North Korean government was behind the devastating cyberattack, which has hobbled Sony Pictures and spread fear throughout the entertainment industry. "The Interview" depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


Federal investigators began briefing some legislators that the rogue state gave the order to raid Sony's computer system, leading to a massive leak of sensitive data, including emails, financial documents and even the salaries of Sony's top executives.


The U.S. government takes “very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression,” and it’s “considering a range of options in weighing a potential response” to the cyberattack, a National Security Council spokeswoman said in a Wednesday night statement.


The fast-moving events that led to Sony yanking the film across the country came after the nation's top theater chains decided to cancel screenings following threats of violence against theater-goers by Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that has claimed responsibility for the attack.


Although law enforcement authorities discounted those threats, theater owners and studio chiefs worried that they would be enough to keep moviegoers away from theaters and hurt the year-end box office for everyone.


The decision would cost Sony perhaps $70 million for the costs of making the film and marketing efforts to date, and could also prompt an executive shake-up, industry analysts said. Sony Pictures Entertainment is led by Chairman Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal.


"By canceling release of the film, Sony Entertainment is admitting it made the wrong decision to go forward," said Laura Martin, senior media analyst at Needham & Co. "They are now succumbing to pressure that they obviously underestimated six months ago."


Sony executives had originally resisted postponing "The Interview," fearing that doing so would be a victory for the hackers, and set a dangerous precedent for future threats.


Although many in Hollywood expressed relief at Sony's decision, others expressed anger.


"I think every business has the right to do whatever they want, but when — en masse — all of these businesses decide not to present a movie, they're basically setting themselves up for other people to threaten them," said director Judd Apatow, a friend and frequent collaborator of "The Interview's" director and co-star Seth Rogen. "What do they do when someone says the same thing about the James Bond movie or 'Annie'?"


At the same time, filmmakers Rogen and Evan Goldberg — with Sony's consent — made a movie that portrayed the gruesome assassination of a sitting world leader, something that film historians say has not been done before. North Korea called months ago for the film to be sidelined, saying it amounted to an "act of war."


Exhibitors don't take the risks lightly. Cinemark is still dealing with legal issues from the "Dark Knight Rises" shooting in the summer of 2012.


Owners of shopping malls also were putting pressure on theaters to bail on the movie, fearing any threat could scare away consumers during the busiest shopping season of the year.


"Due to the wavering support of the film 'The Interview' by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres," said the company.


AMC, the nation's second-largest chain, said it canceled because of the "overall confusion and uncertainty that has been created in the marketplace."


Rival studio executives also shared concerns about the broader impact on attendance for the movies over the holidays. December is a key month for many studios and accounted for roughly $1 billion in ticket sales last year in the U.S. and Canada.


"We're all afraid people aren't going to go to theaters in general because of the threat," said a studio executive who declined to comment publicly because of the sensitivity of the matter. "The theaters are supposed to be an escape for people to get entertained.… If they don't show up, it could be disastrous."


"In a year when the box office is down single digits year over year, you didn't need something else keeping people away from the theaters," said Eric Wold, an analyst with B. Riley. "It makes complete sense to drop the movie," said Wold, who noted that loss of the film would likely result in 2% less in quarterly revenue for exhibitors. "It's a pretty immaterial movie for the potential risk at hand. There's no upside."


Sony has decided not to pursue video-on-demand distribution for the film or make it available on YouTube or a streaming service such as Amazon or Neftlix. The option was one of a number of scenarios being explored, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. A Sony spokesman said simply that the studio "has no further release plans for the film."


Also see-



INITIATIVE : A new GCHQ-NCA unit will catch pedophiles in the Deep Web in UK

Prime Minister Cameron announced that a newborn cyber unit composed by officials from GCHQ and NCA will fight online pedophiles even in the Deep Web.

by Pierluigi Paganini

December 14th, 2014


Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed that national intelligence agencies will join the efforts to track and arrest online abusers and pedophiles. The British Prime Minister announced that the British Intelligence will have greater powers for online monitoring of suspects.


British authorities warned that up to 1,300 children are exposed to online abuse from pedophiles, it is a moral and social obligation to fight this social evil.


Cameron explained the strategy of the British Government at the #WeProtectChildren online global summit in London, announcing the creation of a new unit composed by members from the GCHQ and the National Crime Agency (NCA).


One of the most difficult goals of law enforcement that operate against online pedophiles, is to track this category of criminals that makes large use of anonymizing networks like Tor.


The newborn unit will be involved in investigation on crimes that exploit the deep web, Cameron referring the anonymizing networks like Tor said that they act as “digital hiding places for child abusers.”


“The unit will receive £10 million next year to create specialist teams to find explicit content on the web. There are also plans to criminalize sexual comments sent to children on the internet by adults. The Prime Minister also cited cases in which security services were able to track UK citizens involved in pedophilic activities while using software designed to protect their identities.” reports news portal.


British security services claim to be very active in the fight of child pornography online, they have arrested more than 1,000 alleged pedophiles only the past year compared to 192 arrests between 2012 and 2013.


The law enforcement arrested suspect pedophiles adopting sophisticated web tracking methods,


British police have also warned that up to 1,300 children are vulnerable to abuse from pedophiles they may come into contact with online.


“GCHQ is using its world-leading capabilities to help the NCA reach into the dark web and bring to justice those who misuse it to harm children,” declared Director Robert Hannigan. “With the NCA, we are committed to eliminating digital hiding places for child abusers.”


Cameron explained that the new unit will benefit of a new technology that allows law enforcement to curb the sharing of illegal photographs and videos online. Additionally, organizations such as the Internet Watch Foundation will assist multinational internet firms including Google and Facebook to identify and block illegal images.


The British Intelligence will receive the support of organizations such as the Internet Watch Foundation and IT giants, including Google and Facebook, to identify and persecute the illegal activities.


“Every time someone chooses to view an online image or a video of a child being abused, they are choosing to participate in a horrific crime,” Cameron said. “Every single view represents that victim being abused again. They may as well be in the room with them.”


The noble intentions of the British Intelligence are indisputable, however, according to revelations made by Snowden, this kind of investigations can have serious repercussions on the human rights and support massive surveillance programs.



FORECAST : 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2015

By Tom Patterson

Trusting Security/CSO

Dec 15, 2014


Based on my history in this space, plus the fact that my day job of running CSC's Global Cybersecurity Consulting business lets me talk to and help hundreds of executives around the world, I wanted to offer my perspective on how 2014 turned out and my thoughts on what to watch for in 2015. Before starting my 2015 predictions, let’s review how I did last year:


1. Planning Goes Mainstream


2014 was the year that retailers learned that a good response to an incident is as critical a skill as the ability to stop an attack. Organizations spent hundreds of millions of real dollars in 2014 responding to incidents, and they are learning from that experience that an ounce of prevention is worth hundreds of millions of pounds of cure.


2. Big Data and Security Meet at the SIEM


While not mainstream in 2014, many leading companies are moving beyond security information and event management (SIEM) services and using big data techniques to predict what will happen so they will have time to prevent incidents. Based on this strong start, look for far greater adoption of predictive big data in 2015.


3. Threats Keep Evolving


As 2014 saw the release of highly evolved threats, we can agree this came true. In many cases, criminals launched these threats — which used to live only in the systems of governments and defense companies — against retail, entertainment, finance, healthcare and more.


4. Your Security Scope Expands


This 2014 warning that your supply chains are fast becoming threat-entry points was proven time and time again, evidenced by high profile attacks against retail and energy using “trusted” suppliers as their entry points. Continuous monitoring for advanced threats and behavior-based security event analysis engines are two measures that can help prevent supply chain vulnerabilities.


5. Passé Passwords


Disappointingly, 2014 saw us remain tethered to passwords that don’t work. We learned that sony123 is not a great password choice and, in fact, passwords themselves are no longer the answer. Federated identity ecosystems are here and will be more widely adopted in 2015.


6. Keys Are the Key to the Cloud


Many more organizations adopted the cloud in 2014 — the ability to own their own keys helped prompt this widespread adoption. Companies also introduced much great new technology to maintain keys and control while leveraging the cloud in 2014; this new technology should drive dramatic enterprise cloud adoption in 2015.


7. Smartphones Get Dumb Again


As with passwords, it’s a shame that more smartphone manufacturers didn’t leverage the virtual machine style of access on their phones. Thus, it’s no surprise that much sensitive material was left in the backseats of cabs and floating in Starbucks.


8. Transnational Crime Becomes More Concerning Than Governments


Money was still the top motivator for cyberattacks in 2014, and the organizations behind organized crime became more technologically coordinated, advanced and ruthless.


9. Shhhhhh! — Securing Your Voice


Several new secure mobile phones, secure VoIP and add-on security, especially for international journalists, rolled out in 2014 as people realized that many governments and criminals eavesdrop. 2014’s new crop of offerings should continue to grow in 2015.


10. Quit It!


Managed security continued its double digit growth in 2014, fueled by companies’ desires to turn much of their security operations over to trusted security pros who can keep up with the tech and threat evolutions.


Lagniappe: Secure the Robots!


2014 had both high- and low-profile attacks against industrial control and SCADA systems, and it continues to be a head-to-head battle where the atom meets the bit.


Of my 2014 predictions, 82 percent bore out over the year. Let’s see what you think of my 2015 prognostications.


1.   Cloud-independent security becomes a linchpin offering, where vendors will own the linkage between your enterprise and any brand of cloud.

2.   Sandboxing goes mainstream. We finally acknowledge that employees surf, and we’ll build them a safe place to do it.

3.   Cyber insurance has a break-out year. While still not perfect, demand overwhelms usefulness.

4.   Cyber-“silver bullets” bite the dust. Companies learn to stop claiming their products deliver impossible results, and customers stop believing them.

5.   A new global, super cybercompany (or two) will emerge. Many of the historic brands are about to get fresh competition. It’s time.

6.   CSOs will be promoted to chief trust officers. Security is a business issue now, not just an IT issue, and companies will see that trust is the new security.

7.   Risk qualifications will become decision criteria for boards of directors. Security works best from the top down (see above).

8.   Criminals will breach home and auto control systems, and security firms will secure ecosystems. Adversaries have just been waiting for wider deployment, which will happen in 2015.

9.   Critical infrastructure will show its vulnerabilities at a dangerous level. There are too many fingers close to too many kill switches right now; someone is going to find a reason to press one.

10.The public will launch a backlash against companies, apps and sites that overreach with our personal information. A year’s worth of credit monitoring is not enough, and class action attorneys will figure that out.


Lagniappe: The blockchain will transcend payments and move into all trust areas. 2015 is a good time to learn how it will change all of your business transactions in the near future.


“Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it,” said Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

2015 will be another exciting year. Let’s get to work!



IT Term of the day


Dithering is a process that uses digital noise to smooth out colors in digital graphics and sounds in digital audio.


Digital Graphics


All digital photos are an approximation of the original subject, since computers cannot display an infinite amount of colors. Instead, the colors are estimated, or rounded to the closest color available. For example, an 8-bit GIF image can only include 256 (2^8) colors. This may be enough for a logo or computer graphic, but is too few colors to accurately represent a digital photo. (This is why most digital photos are saved as 16 or 24-bit JPEG images, since they support thousands or millions of colors.)


When digital photos contain only a few hundred colors, they typically look blotchy, since large areas are represented by single colors. Dithering can be used to reduce this blotchy appearance by adding digital noise to smooth out the transitions between colors. This "noise" adds makes the photo appear more grainy, but gives it a more accurate representation since the colors blend together more smoothly. In fact, if you view a dithered 256-color image from far away, it may look identical to the same image that is represented by thousands or millions of colors.


Digital Audio


Like digital images, digital audio recordings are approximations of the original analog source. Therefore, if the sampling rate or bit depth of an audio file is too low, it may sound choppy or rough. Dithering can be applied to the audio file to smooth out the roughness. Similar to dithering a digital image, audio dithering adds digital noise to the audio to smooth out the sound. If you view a dithered waveform in an audio editor, it will appear less blocky. More importantly, if you listen to a dithered audio track, it should sound smoother and more like the original analog sound.




Several types of dithering algorithms are used by various image and audio editors, though random dithering is the most common. While dithering is often used to improve the appearance and sound of low quality graphics and audio, it can also be applied to high quality images and recordings. In these situations, dithering may still provide extra smoothness to the image or sound.



Quote of the day

I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.


Mahatma Gandhi



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