An online black market known as xDedic has a catalog of over 70,000 compromised servers, according to Kaspersky Lab. The servers are in 173 countries and belong to businesses, universities and even government agencies — most of whom still have no idea they’ve been hacked.
Worse, the hackers are peddling access to these servers for as little as $6.
xDedic – the shady world of hacked servers for sale
Over the last two years, deep in the slums of the Internet, a different kind of underground market has flourished.
The short, cryptic name perhaps doesn’t say much about it: xDedic. However, on this obscure marketplace anyone can purchase more than 70,000 hacked servers from all around the Internet.
xDedic forum login
From government networks to corporations, from web servers to databases, xDedic provides a marketplace for buyers to find anything. And the best thing about it – it’s cheap! Purchasing access to a server located in a European Union country government network can cost as little as $6.
The one-time cost gives a malicious buyer access to all the data on the server and the possibility to use this access to launch further attacks. It is a hacker’s dream, simplifying access to victims, making it cheaper and faster, and opening up new possibilities for both cybercriminals and advanced threat actors.
Server purchase forum
To investigate xDedic, Kaspersky Lab teamed up with a European ISP. The research allowed us to collect data about the victims and the way the marketplace operates.
In May 2016, Kaspersky Lab counted 70,624 servers available for purchase, from 416 unique sellers in 173 affected countries. In March 2016, the number was about 55,000, a clear indication that the database of users and servers is carefully maintained and updated.
Top countries with servers on sale
Interestingly, the developers of xDedic are not selling anything themselves – instead, they have created a marketplace where a network of affiliates can sell access to compromised servers. If the truth be told, the people behind xDedic have created what appears to be a “quality” service – the forum even includes live technical support, special tools to patch hacked servers to allow multiple RDP sessions and profiling tools that upload information about the hacked servers into the xDedic database.
Top 10 sellers – May 2016
So who are the xDedic sellers listed above? Kaspersky Lab’s experts have been able to identify a very specific piece of malware (SCCLIENT) which is used by one of them, and to sinkhole its C&Cs. This provided a glimpse into the operations of one of these entities, which, based on the number of victims, we suspect is either Narko, xLeon or sirr.
SCCLIENT Trojan: victims’ information from sinkholing (first 12 hours)
The profiling software created by the xDedic developers also collects information about the software installed on the server, such as online gambling, trading and payments.
Apparently, there is strong interest in accounting, tax reporting and point-of -sale (PoS) software which open up many opportunities for fraudsters:
During our research, we counted 453 servers from 67 countries with PoS software installed:
Servers for sale with Point-of-Sale software – May 2016
For instance, a malicious user could go to the xDedic forum, register an account, top it up with Bitcoins and then purchase a number of servers which have PoS software installed. Then, they can install PoS malware, such as Backoff to harvest credit card numbers. The possibilities are truly endless.
Kaspersky Lab has reported this issue with the appropriate law enforcement agencies and is cooperating in an ongoing investigation.
To read Kaspersky Lab’s full report on xDedic which includes IOCs, download the xDedic Marketplace Analysis PDF here.