Stealing Sensitive Databases Online - the SQL Style

May 12, 2008
In a perfect world from a malicious SQL-ers perspective, mom and pop E-shops filling market niches and generating modest but noticeable revenue streams, have their E-shops vulnerable and exploitable to web application vulnerabilities, with their SQL databases available for extraction in an unencrypted form.

In reality, reconnaissance through search engine's indexes to build a hit list of E-shops with a higher probability for exploitation, is what malicious attackers who lack the skills and capacity to build a botnet, even invest money into renting one on demand and collecting the output in the form of credit cards numbers and accounting data, have been doing for the past of couple of years. Moreover, as I've already pointed out and provided relevant examples, it's perhaps even more disturbing to see the automated process of building such hitlists, verifying that they're exploitable, remotely exploiting them by embedding malicious links within their pages, and of this made possible through the use of botnets.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and while some are putting time and efforts into figuring out whether or not a specific vulnerability is exploited, and through the use of which hundreds of thousands web sites again end up injected with automatically loading links to malicious domains, the bad guys are keeping it simple, sometimes way too simple to end up with the most successful and efficient ways to achieve their objectives. Furthermore, waging verbal warfare on whether or not XSS are a greater security risk than currently perceived, is definitely making a lot of malicious attackers out there enjoy the lack of situational awareness of those who are supposed to have a better grasp of what they're up to, not what they might be up to.

The bottom line - from a malicious economies of scale perspective, are massive SQL injections attacks serving malware to a speculated number of hundreds of thousands susceptible to clien-side attacks exploitation site visitors, more effective, than obtaining the low-hanging databases in a site-specific vulnerability manner? Depends entirely on what the bad guys are trying to obtain, access to as many infected hosts as possible to be later on used for phishing, spamming, stepping stones, hosting and distribution of malware and conducting OSINT for corporate espionage by segmenting the infected population into organizations of importance, or access to "the whole" benefits package coming with having a complete access over an Internet connected host.

About the author

Dancho Danchev is the world's leading expert in the field of cybercrime fighting and threat intelligence gathering having actively pioneered his own methodlogy for processing threat intelligence leading to a successful set of hundreas of high-quality anaysis and research articles published at the industry's leading threat intelligence blog - ZDNet's Zero Day, Dancho Danchev's Mind Streams of Information Security Knowledge and Webroot's Threat Blog with his research featured in Techmeme, ZDNet, CNN, PCWorld, SCMagazine, TheRegister, NYTimes, CNET, ComputerWorld, H+Magazine currently producing threat intelligence at the industry's leading threat intelligence blog - Dancho Danchev's - Mind Streams of Information Security Knowledge. With his research featured at RSA Europe, CyberCamp, InfoSec, GCHQ and Interpol the researcher continues to actively produce threat intelligence at the industry's leading threat intelligence blog - Dancho Danchev's - Mind Streams of Information Security Knowledge publishing a diverse set of hundreds of high-quality research analysis detailing the malicious and fraudulent activities at nation-state and malicious actors across the globe.