A spambot called Onliner been dumping batches of email addresses and passwords into text files on a server hosted in the Netherlands. The data appears to be at least partially related to LinkedIn breaches. The information has been collected by the Onliner Spambot as part of a campaign of social media phishing, data-collection malware, and responses to email spam.
How do Spambots collect data?
In addition to collecting and dumping records in plaintext Onliner is also sending banking malware to the email addresses it has collected, extending its reach and the amount of data it has amassed.
Onliner primarily works by scraping data from previous breaches or vulnerabilities, like Heartbleed in 2014, and then sending out test emails to the addresses it has collected. The test emails will appear to be legitimate but will have a hidden pixel-sized image that, when opened, will collect information such as your IP address, operating system, and device information and send that information back to its servers. Once it has that info Onliner will send phishing messages to attempt to collect more saleable data.
Why a Spambot? What’s the point?
The goal of spambots like Onliner is to perpetuate themselves and steal data. It uses stolen data to steal more data, then uses its new stolen data to generate “trusted” emails to install malware on desktops to steal further data. Onliner is like a perpetual motion machine dedicated to stealing your credentials and infecting your computer.
Even if your computer isn’t being infected by a spambot simply having phishing attacks levied against your business can be a risk – untrained employees, busy schedules, and hectic environments can create an opportunity for abuse from spammers and phishers. Someone with a data snapshot from Onliner’s hidden image emails might be enough to convince someone in your business (or one of your customers or one of your vendors) to share more information or pay money to a malicious attacker, a situation that recently cost a Canadian university 10 million dollars.
Am I at risk?
If you use social media, have a LinkedIn account, have ever used the same password across multiple accounts, let your antivirus expire, or just have an email address there’s probably a chance that your data has been scraped from the internet at some point. You can find out by checking out a wonderful tool called Have I Been Pwned? that was put together by malware researcher Troy Hunt. Hunt’s website also includes a list of websites that have had their data pulled. For major breaches Hunt has organized a short summary of how the breach occurred and its history to help users decide if it’s secure to create accounts with those sites.
If you want to know if your email address has been picked up or if your data is at risk check out Hunt’s page and take a look around; at the very least it will let you know if perhaps it’s time to change your email address or password.
So how do we go on when this kind of thing is becoming more and more common? Aside from practicing good internet hygiene like logging out of accounts, not using unprotected wireless access, and changing passwords frequently PMCS recommends a strong spam filter to keep you safe. We offer Spam Filtering in the form of Nuked Spam, a service that passes your email through our secure servers before it goes to your inboxes, insuring that anything potentially harmful stays out of your server environment. Because we work with industry leaders in spam identification and tagging we are able to keep bots like Onliner off of your system, so that they’re never able to collect data about your users or infect their desktops. In addition to strong spam filtering the protection of a good firewall will go a long way toward protecting your network and keeping your business up and running.
If you’re interested in improving your spam filter or would like to talk to us about security in the era of spambots like Onliner please give us a call at 818-957-5647 and we’ll create a solution perfectly tailored to your needs.