mailing list archives
RE: Hackers View Visa/MasterCard Accounts
From: David Barnett <dbarn064 () earthlink net>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 09:43:12 -0600 (GMT)
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While the threat of a Credit Card DoS seems to quite a novel threat and I am, at this point in time, in no place to
credit or discredit the idea, I can't help but to believe there is a less nefarious motivation behind this attack. One
can't help but refer back to one of the last theft of such a large amount of credit card numbers. The case involving
Russian hacker(s) holding a company (can't remember the name?) ransom for a large sum of money not to release the
credit card numbers onto the Internet.
If one takes the number of accounts affected, at last count some 8 million, assume at least 10 million affected and the
costs to replace these accounts (the published figure I have seen was $25 per card), one most wonder atwhat cost would
these institutions not pay up? $5 million?
Consumer confidence of purchasing on-line has been growing over the past year. Yes, this is not a case of a e-commerce
site being broken into, but the public perception is there. Why has the victim clearing house not been exposed publicly?
If one now takes the possibility of a credit card DoS seriously, I would say this would be even more reason for the
attacker(s) to try and call for some sort of ransom money. Yes, the last time, we know of at least, no money was paid
out, and so was the credit cards all over the net.
I can only wonder what is taking place in the back channels, and if we will ever know what threats were made and what
money may have been paid out.
Perhaps these are the reasons for the victims anonymity??
Sr. Security Architect
At 11:05 AM 2/19/2003 -0500, full-disclosure-request () lists netsys com wrote:
From: "Bernie, CTA" <cta () hcsin net>
To: <full-disclosure () lists netsys com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 11:01:45 -0500
Subject: RE: [Full-disclosure] Hackers View Visa/MasterCard Accounts
Reply-to: cta () hcsin net
My point exactly. Again, I believe the real payload and threat
could be that of DoS. If one identifies all plausible threat types,
and assesses the risks associated with any interrelated exploit,
the probability of a denial of service scores the highest. In fact,
given that 8 million plus consumers were "denied service", I
would say that the Credit Card DoS attack had successfully
Now consider that the thief / attacker could *anonymously*
submit these credit card numbers as well as another 10 million
or so newly cloned numbers, to tens of thousands of web sites,
causing a potentially effective DoS attack resulting in an e-
I would call attention to the possibility that a Credit Card DoS
attack could significantly impact terrestrial commerce. Think
about how intertwined credit cards are in the global day to day
commerce. Furthermore, it would be very difficult to track and
identify the attacker since such a DoS attack could be
launched autonomously, and on an unpredictable further date.
Another issue to consider is containment of the stolen
information. What steps are, or could be taken to prepare for
the possibility that the stolen credit card information may be
disseminated, and that exploitation may not appear until some
unknown future date?
So now a few parting points=85
First, its time that businesses, banks, Visa, Master Card
American Express, and alike implement effective safeguards to
protect the personal identifiers and confidential financial data
elements stored in databases or otherwise electronically
transmitted. SET was a good first step that was killed off due to
IMO, complacency and greed. Today, there are many ways I,
and I'm sure others, could think of which are easier and less
costly to implement then SET. But will it be done?
Secondly, why has Visa, Master Card, not put any real thought
and effort to effectively mitigate the many vulnerabilities and
threats associated with their credit card processing
mechanism? Because in the past, VISA / Master Card
generated such significant and continuous transactional
revenue that they could absorb 40% to 60% losses due to fraud
over the transaction period. However, if Transaction flow were
to be significantly impeded, by a DoS attack as I have outlined,
well one would believe that there are not enough buckets in the
world to carry away the unabsorbed red ink.
Lastly, I would say that if the perpetrator were in any way
involved with any of the "terrorist" groups, then this incident
requires top level and immediate attention by the authorities,
Credit Card issuers, and businesses to identify, develop and
implement safeguards to mitigate the threats. Then again, if the
perpetrator were to be a disgruntled employee, script kiddy,
phacker etc, should we consider the risks to be at a much
lower level? That is, just find who did it slap his wrist, then go
back to business as usual. I for one would say not.
On 18 Feb 2003, at 17:07, Jason Coombs wrote:
From: "Jason Coombs" <jasonc () science org>
Date sent: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 17:07:09 -1000
And if you were an economic terrorist wouldn't you be keen to
compromise all ~580 million credit card accounts in the U.S. that
have been issued according to these silly, insecure methods?
The "payload" in this attack may be simply to damage the
financial markets by destroying the existing (extremely
vulnerable) credit card issuer/acquirer/processor infrastructure.
jasonc () science org
From: Bernie, CTA [mailto:cta () hcsin net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 12:32 PM
To: full-disclosure () lists netsys com; Jason Coombs
Subject: RE: [Full-disclosure] Hackers View Visa/MasterCard
On 18 Feb 2003, at 11:08, Jason Coombs wrote:
lucky for cc fraudsters, issuers opt to create cards in batches
where all of the neighboring card numbers share the same
expiration date (month/year).
Taking into account that the batches are done sequentially,
LUHN checksums could be easily discovered through a bit of
simple Mod 10 arithmetic, and that there is better than a 50%
probability of predicting the expiration date, I would say that
the thief could be more successful at exploiting newly generated
credit card numbers, and just use those stolen as seeds.
Now assuming that a thief has successfully generated such
numbers, what would be the best method of attack? How about
a few coins ($0.50) here and there, times 5 million plus cards
per month? How many credit card customers or issuing banks will
pay any attention to such inconsequential charges? Especially if
the statement notes such a charge something like "account
I fear that the real payload has yet to be calculated.
Chief Technology Architect
Chief Security Officer
cta () hcsin net
Euclidean Systems, Inc.
// "There is no expedient to which a man will not go
// to avoid the pure labor of honest thinking."
// Honest thought, the real business capital.
// Observe> Think> Plan> Think> Do> Think>
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David Barnett CISSP, CCSE, CCNA
Sr. Security Specialist
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.