Earlier this month, the administrator of the cybercrime discussion board Breached obtained a cease-and-desist letter from a cybersecurity agency. The missive alleged that an public sale on the positioning for knowledge stolen from 10 million prospects of Mexico’s second-largest financial institution was pretend information and harming the financial institution’s popularity. The administrator responded to this empty risk by buying the stolen banking knowledge and leaking it on the discussion board for everybody to obtain.
On August 3, 2022, somebody utilizing the alias “Holistic-K1ller” posted on Breached a thread promoting knowledge allegedly stolen from Grupo Financiero Banorte, Mexico’s second-biggest monetary establishment by complete loans. Holistic-K1ller mentioned the database included the complete names, addresses, cellphone numbers, Mexican tax IDs (RFC), e-mail addresses and balances on greater than 10 million residents.
There was no cause to consider Holistic-K1ller had fabricated their breach declare. This identification has been extremely lively on Breached and its predecessor RaidForums for greater than two years, principally promoting databases from hacked Mexican entities. Final month, they offered buyer info on 36 million prospects of the Mexican cellphone firm Telcel; in March, they offered 33,000 photos of Mexican IDs — with the entrance image and a selfie of every citizen. That very same month, additionally they offered knowledge on 1.4 million prospects of Mexican lending platform Yotepresto.
However this historical past was both neglected or ignored by Group-IB, the Singapore-based cybersecurity agency apparently employed by Banorte to assist reply to the info breach.
“The Group-IB crew has found a useful resource containing a fraudulent put up providing to purchase Grupo Financiero Banorte’s leaked databases,” reads a letter the Breach administrator mentioned they obtained from Group-IB. “We ask you to take away this put up containing Banorte knowledge. Thanks in your cooperation and immediate consideration to this pressing matter.”
The administrator of Breached is “Pompompurin,” the identical particular person who alerted this creator in November 2021 to a evident safety gap in a U.S. Justice Division web site that was used to spoof safety alerts from the FBI. In a put up to Breached on Aug. 8, Pompompurin mentioned they purchased the Banorte database from Holistic-K1ller’s gross sales thread as a result of Group-IB was sending emails complaining about it.
“Additionally they tried to submit DMCA’s in opposition to the web site,” Pompompurin wrote, referring to authorized takedown requests underneath the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. “Be certain to inform Banorte that now they should fear concerning the knowledge being leaked as an alternative of simply being offered.”
Group-IB CEO Dmitriy Volkov mentioned the corporate has seen some success up to now asking hackers to take away or take down sure info, however that making such requests shouldn’t be a typical response for the safety agency.
“It isn’t a typical follow to ship takedown notifications to such boards demanding that such content material be eliminated,” Volkov mentioned. “However these abuse letters are legally binding, which helps construct a basis for additional steps taken by regulation enforcement businesses. Actions opposite to worldwide guidelines within the regulated house of the Web solely result in extra extreme crimes, which — as we all know from the case of Raidforums — are efficiently investigated and stopped by regulation enforcement.”
Banorte didn’t reply to requests for remark. However in a short written assertion picked up on Twitter, Banorte mentioned there was no breach involving their infrastructure, and the info being offered is outdated.
“There was no violation of our platforms and technological infrastructure,” Banorte mentioned. “The set of knowledge referred to is inaccurate and outdated, and doesn’t put our customers and prospects in danger.”
That assertion could also be 100% true. Nonetheless, it’s tough to think about a greater instance of how not to do breach response. Banorte shrugging off this incident as a nothingburger is baffling: Whereas it’s nearly actually true that the financial institution stability info within the Banorte leak is now outdated, the remainder of the data (tax IDs, cellphone numbers, e-mail addresses) is more durable to vary.
“Is there one individual from our neighborhood that assume sending stop and desist letter to a hackers discussion board operator is a good suggestion?,” requested Ohad Zaidenberg, founding father of CTI League, a volunteer emergency response neighborhood that emerged in 2020 to assist combat COVID-19 associated scams. “Who does it? As an alternative of serving to, they pushed the group from the hill.”
Kurt Seifried, director of IT for the CloudSecurityAlliance, was equally perplexed by the response to the Banorte breach.
“If the info wasn’t actual….did the financial institution assume a stop and desist would outcome within the itemizing being eliminated?” Seifried questioned on Twitter. “I imply, isn’t promoting breach knowledge a worse crime normally than slander or libel? What was their thought course of?”
A extra typical response when a big financial institution suspects a breach is to strategy the vendor privately by an middleman to establish if the data is legitimate and what it may cost to take it off the market. Whereas it could appear odd to anticipate cybercriminals to make good on their claims to promote stolen knowledge to just one social gathering, eradicating offered stolen gadgets from stock is a reasonably fundamental operate of just about all cybercriminal markets in the present day (aside from maybe websites that visitors in stolen identification knowledge).
At a minimal, negotiating or just participating with an information vendor should purchase the sufferer group extra time and clues with which to research the declare and ideally notify affected events of a breach earlier than the stolen knowledge winds up on-line.
It’s true that numerous hacked databases put up on the market on the cybercrime underground are offered solely after a small subset of in-the-know thieves have harvested all the low-hanging fruit within the knowledge — e.g., entry to cryptocurrency accounts or consumer credentials which might be recycled throughout a number of web sites. And it’s actually not remarkable for cybercriminals to return on their phrase and re-sell or leak info that they’ve offered beforehand.
However firms within the throes of responding to a knowledge safety incident do themselves and prospects no favors after they underestimate their adversaries, or attempt to intimidate cybercrooks with authorized threats. Such responses usually accomplish nothing, besides unnecessarily upping the stakes for everybody concerned whereas displaying a harmful naiveté about how the cybercrime underground works.
Replace, Aug. 17, 10:32 a.m.: Because of a typo by this creator, a request for remark despatched to Group-IB was not delivered upfront of this story. The copy above has been up to date to incorporate a remark from Group-IB’s CEO.