Australian "Mink" link to pro-Russian attacks on Merkel's website

A hacker, said to be an Australian, may be one of the key members behind the Ukrainian separatist hacking group that claimed responsibility for attacks on German government websites earlier this month.

Details about the Australian hacker who uses the online handle "Mink" were leaked online on January 7 2015 — the day the websites of Germany’s parliament and Chancellor, Angela Merkel, were knocked offline in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Details of Mink come courtesy of a new report by researchers at Trend Micro who dug up the alleged Australian hacker's links to the "pro-Russian cybercriminal group".

While Ukraine’s prime minister blamed Russian intelligence for the attack, CyberBerkut on its own website claimed responsibility and called upon Germany to stop supporting the Ukraine government in Kiev. The group previously claimed to have bumped several NATO websites offline ahead of last year’s referendum to split the country.

As noted at the time by cyber warfare author Jeffrey Carr, the hacking group borrowed its name from Berkut, the special forces unit of Ukraine's former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. Berkut used “terrorist tactics” against supporters of the Euromaiden revolution.

After the attack on Germany’s websites, a group of Ukrainian right wing activists called the Pravy Sektor, in a practice known as “doxing”, leaked a document containing the alleged real names, dates of birth and countries of residence of four key members of CyberBerkut who used the handles “Mink,” “Artemov,” “MDV,” and “KhA.”

Captured by Trend Micro, the document outlines three of the members from either Russia or Ukraine, while the fourth, Mink, is an Australian, though the hacker's country of residence and date of birth are not known.

Other notes on Mink included numerous hacking exploits targeting prosecutors in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine.

“Hacking mailbox and publication of correspondence IV Kolomoiskiy with the prosecutor in Lviv region, and computer hacking and e-mail Assistant oligarch. Also lined with the contents of the archives 89 email accounts of employees of the Lviv regional prosecutor’s office. He is the leader of retribution network (http://retribution.in),” the note on Mink reads.

retribution.in’s domain registration information also lists Australian contact details, according to Who.is.

CSO.com.au has sought comment from the alleged Australian hacker and will update the story if it receives one.

According to Trend Micro, Mink uses several aliases and “is part of different Russian underground forums such as inattack.ru, antichat.ru, damagelab, and an old security focused forum named rootkit.com.”

Mink also runs several other websites, including crypting.com, the main website linked to the Twitter profile of Cyber Berkut, Trend Micro noted.

According to Trend Micro, the main DDoS tool Cyber Berkut uses is ClientPort, which connects to a .onion address through anonymity network Tor to fetch the site that's to be attacked. The group previously posted links on its VKontake page directing supporters to install the tool, which allows supporters to participate in HTTP connection flooding, UDP flooding, and TCP flooding. TrendMicro suspects the same tool was used in the attacks on German government websites.

"CyberBerkut members are first and foremost Pro-Russians cyber-criminals, fighting for a political cause," Trend Micro concludes.

"As with most hacktivist groups, they used distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to take down and disturb official government websites, as well as infect specific targets. This is all done in order to gather email credentials to read their target’s communication and documents. The malware used could either be a Trojan, keylogger or other forms of badness they would leverage to gain their victims’ email credentials."

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.


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