Researchers at vpnMentor discovered an ElasticSearch database exposed online that contained an archive of over 100.000 compromised Facebook accounts. The archive was used by crooks as part of a global hacking campaign against users of the social network.
“We discovered the scam via an unsecured database used by the fraudsters to store private data belonging to 100,000s of their victims.” reads the analysis published vpnMentor.
“The people running the scam were tricking Facebook users into providing login credentials for their private accounts via a tool pretending to reveal who was visiting their profiles.”
The fraudsters used the stolen login credentials to access Facebook accounts and share spam comments on posts. The comments all eventually led to a fake Bitcoin trading platform used to scam people out of ‘deposits’ of at least €250.
“By including links to fake news websites, the fraudsters hoped to bypass and confuse Facebook’s fraud and bot detection tools,” said researchers. “If the hacked accounts only posted the same links to a Bitcoin scam over and over, they’d quickly be blocked by the social network.”
Fraudsters were tricking Facebook users into providing their account login credentials by providing a tool that pretended to reveal who was visiting their profiles. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data included in the archive also included emails, names, and phone numbers for the victims who’d registered at a fraudulent Bitcoin site also run by the fraudsters. Experts also discovered tens of domains employed by the fraudsters in this scam campaign.
The archive also included technical information about how the cybercriminals had automated their processes.
It is not clear if the exposed data was accessed or leaked by other third parties.
The size of the archive was over 5.5 GB and contained a total of 13,521,774, it remained open between June and September of this year. According to the experts at least 100,000 Facebook users were exposed in the Facebook scam.
vpnMentor pointed out Facebook accounts were not hacked, the exposed database belonged to a third party using it to process account login credentials obtained illegally via a group of scam websites targeting Facebook users
The researchers notified the social network of their discovery, they also confirmed that the database was live and real.
The day after the discovery of the unsecured database, it was likely targeted by a Meow attack, which wiped its data, them the database went offline. Since July, experts observed dozens of unsecured Elasticsearch and MongoDB instances exposed online that were inexplicably wiped by threat actors as part of a campaign tracked as Meow attack.
“If you’re a Facebook user and think you’ve been a victim of this fraud, change your login credentials immediately.” concludes the report.
“Furthermore, if you reused your Facebook password on any other accounts, change it immediately to protect them from hacking. We recommend using a password generator to create unique, strong passwords for every private account you have, and changing them periodically.”
Below the investigation timeline:
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, scam)