Researchers at threat intelligence firm Digital Shadows have analyzed a relatively new service named Ripper that aims to expose fraudsters who target the users of cybercrime marketplaces.
The people behind Ripper.cc started discussing the idea in mid-2015, but the service was only launched in June 2016. Currently, it stores information on more than 1,200 monikers that have been used to commit fraud on cybercrime forums.
While some cybercriminals earn money by selling stolen information, others, known as “rippers,” make a profit by selling fake login credentials, invalid payment card data, or items they don’t actually possess.
Escrow systems and blacklists have been used to minimize the risks posed by fraudsters, but these methods can be inconvenient or inefficient. One service that has been trying to fight rippers since 2005 is Kidala, a Russian website that provides a database of users known to have committed fraud.
However, some believe Kidala is not always impartial and it allows rippers to remove their name by paying a fee.
Ripper is available in English and it provides some highly useful features. Users can install Chrome and Firefox extensions that automatically highlight the name of a ripper on a website. The service also provides a plugin for the Jabber client Psi Plus, which highlights fraudsters in the messaging app’s contact list.
The website allows users to create ripper profiles that track a user across multiple forums, and it also stores specific examples of scams conducted by rippers.
Digital Shadows has pointed out that the development of Ripper is similar to how legitimate tech startups create their products.
“The founders plainly acknowledge their intention to displace the previous main player – kidala.info – and try to win customers over by promising better features. They also have to prove their credentials – in this case by saying that a number of well-known forums support this project and their existing reputation on these forums,” Digital Shadows analysts explained.
The site’s operators have promised to make the code open source to show that the plugins don’t include any malicious functionality, and they plan on making a profit by displaying ads on the website. In the future, they might launch an escrow service of their own and a mobile application.
“Ripper[.]cc is another example of the industrialization of hacking and the growing professionalism of cybercrime. If such a service becomes successful, it enables cyber criminals to significantly reduce the risks associated with rippers and the overall cybercrime economy can become more profitable allowing for further growth,” analysts said.
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