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By | John Leyden 24th January 2008 11:30

Phishing coders hook clueless crooks

No honour among Web 2.0 thieves

Cheapskate fraudsters hoping to run phishing scams for peanuts have themselves been hoodwinked. Security watchers have spotted a free phishing kit containing a hidden backdoor that siphons off stolen credentials from the fraudsters who use the technology.

Script kiddies are unlikely to twig that captured credit card numbers are being shared with the coders who developed the phishing kit, a recurrent group of Moroccan fraudsters calling themselves Mr-Brain.

Mr-Brain's website offers easy-to-use phishing site code, email templates and other hacking tools. The website offers phishing kits for many of the most common targets including Bank of America, eBay, PayPal and HSBC.

Only a basic knowledge of PHP coding is required to set up the kits, which fraudsters can have up and running in minutes. Trouble is that as well as sending victims' login credentials to the fraudsters' chosen email address, the data is also surreptitiously sent to the Mr-Brain crew, Netcraft reports. The techniques used by the coders are quite sophisticated.

"The configuration script exploits the case-sensitivity in PHP variable names to disguise Mr-Brain’s electronic mail address as an unrelated but seemingly essential part of the script, encouraging fraudsters not to alter it," Netcraft explains.

"The injected electronic mail address is actually contained in a completely separate PHP file, where it is encrypted in a hidden input field named 'niarB', or 'Brain' backwards. Yet another PHP script reads the value from this input field and decrypts it before supplying it to the configuration script. Most fraudsters are unlikely to notice this level of obfuscation and will assume the script is working normally, as they will also receive a copy of any emails produced by the script."

In this way Mr-Brain receives stolen credentials via a Gmail account. Another Gmail account was used in a similar scam involving a phishing kit (again featuring hidden backdoor code) and targeting Bank of America that surfaced earlier this month, Netcraft adds. The firm has added detection for pages generated by the toolkit to its anti-phishing toolbar. ®

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