Security Experts:

Hacked Server Marketplace Returns as a Tor Domain

xDedic, a marketplace selling access to hacked servers, has reemerged as a Tor domain after a report that exposed its illicit activity sparked its operators to take it down last month.

After Kaspersky Lab researchers revealed in mid-June that they counted over 70,000 hacked servers made available for purchase on xDedic, some for as low as just $6, the marketplace operators closed the virtual shop on June 16. However, with roughly 30,000 users a month, the storefront was too popular to disappear for good, and intelligence firm Digital Shadows saw it re-emerge only a week later, but as a Tor domain now.

In an incident report shared with SecurityWeek, Digital Shadows reveals that a user named xDedic posted on 24 Jun 2016 a link to the new site on the criminal forum exploit[.]in. The user, who “had an established reputation on the forum and has been previously identified as associated with the site,” posted the link on a Russian language forum thread titled “xDedic спалили” (xDedic burned).

The original xDedic site was established in November 2014, and provided detailed information on each of the servers available for purchase on it: price, location, speed, anti-virus installed, and more. Kaspersky Lab researchers discovered 70,000 servers available on the marketplace, but later revealed that these might have been only the items that were the least attractive to buyers.

Several days after the initial report was published, the researchers received information that over 176,000 unique hacked servers were traded on xDedic between October 2014 and February 2016 and that many more might have been traded since February. The hacked servers were located in 173 countries and came from 416 unique sellers. The prices for these servers ranged from $6 to $6,000, though only around 50 servers cost more than $50.

The new xDedic site is identical in design to the previous one, but Digital Shadows researchers say that the marketplace’s operators didn’t import the user accounts from the initial website, meaning that accounts could be freely registered. However, they also discovered that a $50 credit was required after registration for an account to be activated.

Awareness on the new site is low at the moment, but researchers believe that this will change shortly, since the previous site was attracting 30,000 users a month when it closed down. It appears that the new xDedic domain was shared only on said criminal forum and on a French language dark web criminal site, but “with the exception of Tor domain aggregation lists could not be located elsewhere.”

Researchers couldn’t confirm how many users the new site has attracted for the time being, as the domain is hosted on the Tor network and they can’t assess the site's traffic volumes. However, the research into the new xDedic site is still undergoing, Digital Shadows told SecurityWeek.

“The nature of the dark web is naturally very volatile, so keeping a keen awareness of this naturally changing landscape is key for organizations,” said James Chappell, CTO and co-founder of Digital Shadows.

Kaspersky Lab researchers also are monitoring the situation. “We are aware of reports of the return of xDedic and are monitoring the situation. We have a policy to share the findings of cybercriminal research with the relevant law enforcement agencies, and we have already done so in the case of xDedic,” Kaspersky Lab told SecurityWeek via email.

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