250,000 stolen MySQL databases auctioned on the dark web

Hackers are thought to have obtained 7TB of stolen data using the PLEASE_READ_ME ransomware campaign

A quarter of a million databases stolen from tens of thousands of breached MySQL servers are being offered for sale on the dark web, according to security researchers from Guardicore Labs.

Hackers are believed to have obtained 7TB of stolen data using the PLEASE_READ_ME ransomware campaign, successfully targeting around 83,000 MySQL database servers.

PLEASE_READ_ME has reportedly been active since January 2020, attacking weak credentials on internet-facing MySQL servers.

Since then, Guardicore Global Sensors Network (GGSN) reported 92 attacks, with numbers rising sharply in October. According to Guardicore researchers, the ransomware attacks originated from 11 different IP addresses, most of which were found to be located in the UK and Ireland.

The ransomware campaign is untargeted, meaning that it attempts to infect any of the five million MySQL servers which are internet-facing. Hackers exploit weak credentials and are able to re-access the network by leaving a backdoor user on the database for persistence.

Guardicore Labs researchers managed to discover two different variants during the lifetime of this campaign. The first, which lasted from January to the end of November, saw attackers leaving their victims a ransom note with their wallet address, the amount of Bitcoin to pay, as well as an email address for technical support, with 10 days being given to make the payment. 

The second variant, which began on 3 October and also lasted until late November, got rid of the Bitcoin wallet payments and email communications. Instead, hackers opted for a website in the Tor network to receive payments and used unique alphanumeric tokens, outlined in the ransom notes, to identify the victims.

In a blog post detailing the discovery, security researchers  Ophir Harpaz and Omri Marom said that the “PLEASE_READ_ME operators are trying to up their game by using double extortion in scale”. 

“Factoring their operation will render the campaign more scalable and profitable. Guardicore Labs provides an IOCs repository and will keep monitoring this campaign to help organizations protect against it,” they added.

Featured Resources

Seven steps to connect and empower your frontline workers

How business leaders can improve communication with a secure platform

Free download

Create what’s next

The future of collaboration and productivity

Free Download

Leveraging the cloud without relinquishing control

Your data. Their cloud.

Free download

Re-architecting for nonstop innovation

Unlocking productivity, scalability, and lower costs for cloud natives

Free Download

Recommended

SMBs urged to update software ahead of Black Friday
e commerce

SMBs urged to update software ahead of Black Friday

25 Nov 2021
US adds dozen Chinese tech companies to trade blacklist
Policy & legislation

US adds dozen Chinese tech companies to trade blacklist

25 Nov 2021
Fifth of UK security pros discriminated against in 2021
Careers & training

Fifth of UK security pros discriminated against in 2021

23 Nov 2021
Wind turbine maker Vestas hit by cyber attack
cyber attacks

Wind turbine maker Vestas hit by cyber attack

22 Nov 2021

Most Popular

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?
Sponsored

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?

17 Nov 2021
How to speed up Microsoft's Windows 11
Microsoft Windows

How to speed up Microsoft's Windows 11

9 Nov 2021
Nike to take customers into the metaverse with 'NIKELAND'
virtualisation

Nike to take customers into the metaverse with 'NIKELAND'

19 Nov 2021