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Poisoned Phishing Kit Steals From Criminals

The phishing kit includes a back door that sends a copy of each victim's details back to the scam artists.

Proving the old adage that there's no honor among thieves, a group of Moroccan cybercriminals has released a phishing tool kit that steals information from would-be data bandits.

The group, which calls itself Mr-Brain, launched a Web site that offers easy-to-use phishing software, according to Netcraft security researcher Paul Mutton. Its apparent intent is to simplify the process of deploying a phishing site -- a Web site that appears to be legitimate but nonetheless includes hidden code designed to capture personal information like online banking login details.

The phishing kit, said Mutton, allows such sites to be deployed in as little as a minute. It includes templates to attack common phishing targets like Bank of America, eBay, PayPal, and HSBC.

The phishing kit also includes a back door. "Careful inspection of the configuration script reveals deceptive code that hides the true set of electronic mail addresses that are contacted by the kit -- every fraudster who uses these kits will unwittingly send a copy of each victim's details back to the Mr-Brain group," said Mutton in an online post.

The group uses the case sensitivity of PHP variable names to conceal the true nature of the toolkit's configuration script.

In an e-mail, Mutton observed that it's more typical for fraudsters to make money by selling phishing kits or trading them for credit card numbers. "This is quite often done via IRC chatrooms," he said. "Therefore, to see them being offered for free has to make you wonder what's in it for the authors -- why would they spend time making them solely for the benefit of other fraudsters? This is what makes people like me suspicious of the Mr-Brain kits, enough to warrant a bit of poking to see what they really do."

Mutton said he expects the kits will be snapped up by novice malicious hackers. "Most users of these phishing kits will be unlikely to notice the backdoor, because as far as they are concerned, the kits work properly," he said.

Mr-Brain, said Mutton, "has been responsible for a number of previous phishing attacks, and most of the e-mail addresses we've seen involved with it are Gmail ones."

The number of unique phishing Web sites reported by the Anti-Phishing Working Group in October 2007 was 34,266, an increase of more than 6,200 from September 2007. During October 2007, 92.5% of phishing attacks targeted financial services companies.

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