A fresh discovery by security vendor Finjan provides yet another example of how easy it is becoming for almost anyone to find the tools needed to break into, infect or steal data from corporate Web sites.
The vendor announced this week that it has uncovered an illegal database containing more than 8,700 stolen FTP server credentials including user name, password and server addresses. Anyone can purchase those credentials and use them to launch malicious attacks against the compromised systems.
The stolen credentials belong to companies from around the world and include more than 2,500 North American companies, some of whose Web sites are among the world's top 100 domains, according to Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's CTO.
The FTP credentials would allow someone with malicious intent to break into and upload malware of their choice to a compromised server literally with a click or two, he said. "You could pick any server you wanted in the list, pay for it" and launch an attack with very little effort.
A trading interface on the server hosting the illegal database allows purchasers to buy FTP server credentials based on the country in which the servers are located, or even by the Google ranking of the Web sites, Ben-Itzhak said. It also appears designed to give criminals looking to resell FTP credentials a better basis for pricing the stolen data, he said.
A newly updated version of a toolkit called NeoSploit, which allows a cyber crook to automatically inject iFrame tags to Web pages on a compromised server, is also available. These tags are used in turn to surreptitiously pull in malicious code from another Web site, Ben-Itzhak said.
All of the FTP credentials on the database uncovered by Finjan seem to have been harvested previously using Trojans and other forms of malware, he said.
"Software-as-a-Service has been evolving for sometime, but until now, it has been applied only to legitimate applications," Ben-Itzhak said. The recently uncovered database and associated trading applications shows that the model is being applied in the cyber underworld as well, he said.
The database is being hosted on a server in Hong Kong, though all of its contents are in Russian, Ben-Itzhak said. As of last weekend the server was still up and running, he added, though Finjan had sent e-mail to the ISP informing them about the rouge database. It was not immediately clear if the server hosting the database was itself compromised.
Companies that want to find out if their servers are in the list uncovered by Finjan can contact the company. Meanwhile companies concerned that their servers have been compromised need to change their FTP user names and passwords if they haven't already done so as part of their regular routine, Ben-Itzhak said.