Online Hacker Forums

Really interesting article about online hacker forums, especially the politics that goes on in them.

Clearly enterprising and given to posting rambling messages explaining his strategic thinking, Iceman grew CardersMarket’s membership to 1,500. On Aug. 16, he hacked into four rival forums’ databases, electronically extracted their combined 4,500 members, and in one stroke quadrupled CardersMarket’s membership to 6,000, according to security experts who monitored the takeovers.

The four hijacked forums — DarkMarket, TalkCash, ScandinavianCarding and TheVouched — became inaccessible to their respective members. Shortly thereafter, all of the historical postings from each of those forums turned up integrated into the CardersMarket website.

To make that happen, Iceman had to gain access to each forum’s underlying database, tech-security experts say. Iceman boasted in online postings that he took advantage of security flaws lazily left unpatched. CardCops’ Clements says he probably cracked weak database passwords. “Somehow he got through to those servers to grab the historical postings and move them to CardersMarket,” he says.

Iceman lost no time touting his business rationale and hyping the benefits. In a posting on CardersMarket shortly after completing the takeovers he wrote: “basically, (sic) this was long overdue … why (sic) have five different forums each with the same content, splitting users and vendors, and a mish mash of poor security and sometimes poor administration?”

He dispatched an upbeat e-mail to new members heralding CardersMarket’s superior security safeguards. The linchpin: a recent move of the forum’s host computer server to Iran, putting it far beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. He described Iran as “possibly the most politically distant country to the united states (sic) in the world today.”

Posted on October 23, 2006 at 2:54 PM

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.