Last week a well known “hacker” forum became victim to the fast growing list of over 1,076 data breaches that have occurred so far in 2016. The Nulled.IO forum was compromised and data was leaked on May 6th consisting of a 1.3GB tar.gz compressed archive which when expanded is a 9.45GB SQL file named db.sql.
Nulled.IO is a hacking based forum that, according to their website, appears to have 473,700 registered users who share, sell and buy leaked content, stolen credentials, nulled software and software cracks. Considering this forum promotes the sharing of these activities it makes this breach quite ironic. Nulled.IO was running the IP.Board community forumcommonly known as IP.b or IPb. It appears that the forum was also running a IP.Nexus Setup for its market place as well as VIP forums among a few other IPb plugins. While we do not have confirmation as to how this breach occurred at this point, there has been over 4,500 vulnerabilities to date in 2016, and with 185 total vulnerabilities in IP.Board (92 of them do not have a CVE by the way!) it is not hard to make a guess! The last user to login to the forum was on 2016-05-06 10:12:49, providing a very good time frame of when the breach occurred, but it still does not give any idea who was behind this attack.
When examining the data we find that it is a full MySQL dump of a database named nulledforumsdotcr. As you might be able to guess contains the complete forums database for nulled.IO which is also known as nulled.cr. The database actually contains 536,064 user accounts with 800,593 user personal messages, 5,582 purchase records and 12,600 invoices which seem to include donation records as well.
The accounts compromised all contain user names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, registration dates and registered with IP address. Other tables such as the nexus transactions table for VIP access payments contains User ID ( which can be matched back to users in the customers table), payment methods, paypal emails, dates and costs.
Since it is a full dump of the forums, also included are 2.2 millions posts and all of the other site related content which means that private content, links and other information from the VIP forums is now public. This means the VIP access for older content is worthless, clearly impacting nulled.IO business model. Further we find API credentials for 3 payment gateways (Paypal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall) as well as 907,162 authentication logs with geolocation data, member id and ip addresses, and 256 user donation records that are able to be matched to the user with member id.
One question that we receive quite often at RBS is about attribution. People generally want to know who are the actors behind these kinds of attacks and who is using “hacker” forums such as Nulled.IO.
We did some quick analysis of the email addresses and providers registered to offer some insight into who is using this service.
Email statistics from Nulled.IO forum:
Email providers with more than 10,000 matches.
As conversations continue about Cyber Warfare and offensive capabilities being used and developed by nation states, it is interesting to see 19 accounts were registered with .gov based domains including the United States, Philippines, Brazil, Turkey and others. Further it was curious to see that 8 of the government accounts were marked as “User Group 5”, which is for Banned Accounts, the rest were either activated members with posts or awaiting activation.
So why is this leak important?
When services such as Nulled.IO are compromised and data is leaked, often it exposes members who prefer to remain anonymous and hide behind screen names. By simply searching by email or IP addresses, it can become evident who might be behind various malicious deeds. As you can imagine, this can lead to significant problems for forum users. If law enforcement obtains this information, (which no doubt they already have) it can be used to filter out any “suspects” under investigation for possibly conducting illegal activities via the forums. With this being such a comprehensive dump of data it offers up a very good set of information for matching a member ID to the attached invoices, transactions and other content such as member messages and posts.