How these dirty scammers tried to use LinkedIn to steal our customer’s passwords

Earlier this morning one of our more savvy customers received an email from The email contained a “New Message Received” notification allegedly sourced from CEO Tom Morgan. Contained in the email was a link that read, “Click here to sign in and read your messages”. Fortunately we had already provided training to this particular customer that covered Social Engineering and Phishing threats. So, rather than click on the link they forwarded the email to Netragard’s Special Project Team, which is like throwing meat to the wolves. The actual email is provided below in figure 1.

Figure 1


The first step in learning about who was behind this threat was to follow the “click here” link. The link was shortened using the URL shortener and so we used curl to expand it. While we were hopeful that the URL would deliver some sort of awesome zeroday or malware, it didn’t. Instead it served up a fake LinkedIn page (Figure 2) designed to steal login and password information.

Figure 2


The server hosting the phishing site was located in […]

How we tricked your HR lady into giving us access to every customers credit card number

We recently completed the delivery of a Realistic Threat PCI focused Penetration Test for a large retail company. As is always the case, we don’t share customer identifiable information, so specific details about this engagement have been altered to protect the innocent. For the sake of this article we’ll call the customer Acme Corporation.

When we were first approached by the Acme Corporation we noticed that they seemed well versed with regards to penetration testing. As it turned out, they had been undergoing penetration testing for more than a decade with various different penetration testing vendors. When we asked them how confident they were about their security they told us that they were highly confident and that no vendor (or hacker to their knowledge) had ever breached their corporate domain let alone their Cardholder Data Environment (CDE). We were about to change that with our Realistic Threat Penetration Testing services.

Realistic Threat Penetration Tests have specific characteristics that make them very different from other penetration tests.

The minimum characteristics that must be included for a penetration test to be called Realistic Threat are:

  1. IT/Security Staff must not be aware of the […]

Ukrainian hacker admits stealing business press releases for $30M, What they’re NOT telling you -Netragard

The sensationalized stories about the hacking of PR Newswire Association, LLC., Business Wire, and Marketwired, L.P. (the Newswires) are interesting but not entirely complete.  The articles that we’ve read so far paint the Newswires as victims of some high-talent criminal hacking group.  This might be true if the Newswires actually maintained a strong security posture, but they didn’t.  Instead their security posture was insufficiently robust to protect the confidentiality, integrity or availability of the data contained within their networks.  We know this because enough telling details about the breach were made public (see the referenced document at the end of this article).

In this article we first provide a critical analysis of the breaches based on public information primarily from the published record.   We do make assumptions based on the information provide and our own experience with network penetration to fill in some of the gaps. We call out the issues that we believe allowed the hackers to achieve compromise and cause damage to the Newswires.   Later we provide solutions that could have been used (and can be used by others) to prevent this type of breach from happening again. If […]

Enemy of the state

A case study in Penetration Testing

We haven’t been blogging as much as usual largely because we’ve been busy hacking things.   So, we figured that we’d make it up to our readers by posting an article about one of our recent engagements. This is a story about how we covertly breached a highly sensitive network during the delivery of a Platinum level Penetration Test.

First, we should make clear that while this story is technically accurate certain aspects have been altered to protect our customer’s identity and security. In this case we can’t even tell you if this was for a private or public sector customer. At no point will ever write an article that would put any of our customers at risk. For the sake of intrigue lets call this customer Group X.

The engagement was designed to produce a level of threat that would exceeded that which Group X was likely to face in reality. In this case Group X was worried about specific foreign countries breaching their networks. Their concern was not based on any particular threat but instead based on trends and what we agreed was reasonable threat intelligence.   […]

What real hackers know about the penetration testing industry that you don’t.


The information security industry has become politicized and almost entirely ineffective as is evidenced by the continually increasing number of compromises. The vast majority of security vendors don’t sell security; they sell political solutions designed to satisfy the political security needs of third parties. Those third parties often include regulatory bodies, financial partners, government agencies, etc.   People are more concerned with satisfying the political aspects of security than they are with actually protecting themselves, their assets, or their customers from risk and harm.

For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) came into existence back on December 15th, 2004. When the standard was created it defined a set of requirements that businesses needed to satisfy in order to be compliant. One of those requirements is that merchants must undergo regular penetration testing. While that requirement sounds good it completely fails to define any realistic measure against which tests should be performed. As a result the requirement is easily satisfied by the most basic vetted vulnerability scan so long as the vendor calls it a penetration test (same is still largely true for PCI 3.0).

To put this into perspective the […]

Penetration Testing Vendor Comparison. How To Select The Right Vendor.

Video Overview:
Not all penetration testing services are equal. This video discusses what to watch out for when selecting a penetration testing vendor. Penetration Testing Vendor Comparison Video Below.

Not all Penetration Testing companies are created equal. In this video we walk through the right way to conduct penetration testing versus the wrong way.

Most testing firms are not performing genuine penetration tests, they are selling thinly disguised scans. This video will help you make sure you don’t fall victim to such scan based services.

Not All Penetration Testing Services Are Created Equal

How we breach retail networks…



We recently delivered an Advanced Persistent Threat  (APT) Penetration Test to one of our customers. People who know us know that when we say APT we’re not just using buzz words.  Our APT services maintain a 98% success rate at compromise while our unrestricted methodology maintains a 100% success at compromise to date.  (In fact we offer a challenge to back up our stats.  If we don’t penetrate with our unrestricted methodology then your test is free. If we do get in then you pay us an extra 10%.)  Lets begin the story about a large retail customer that wanted our APT services.

When we deliver covert engagements we don’t use the everyday and largely ineffective low and slow methodology.  Instead, we use a realistic offensive methodology that incorporates distributed scanning, the use of custom tools, zero-day malware (RADON) among other things.  We call this methodology Real Time Dynamic Testing™ because it’s delivered in real time and is dynamic.  At the core of our methodology are components normally reserved for vulnerability research and exploit development.  Needless to say, our methodology has teeth.

Our customer (the […]

What you don’t know about compliance…

People are always mystified by how hackers break into major networks like Target, Hannaford, Sony, (government networks included), etc.  They always seem to be under the impression that hackers have some elite level of skill.  The truth is that it doesn’t take any skill to break into most networks because they aren’t actually protected. Most network owners don’t care about security because they don’t perceive the threat as real.  They suffer from the “it won’t ever happen to me” syndrome.

As a genuine penetration testing company we take on dozens of new opportunities per month.  Amazingly, roughly 80% of businesses that request services don’t want quality security testing, they want a simple check in the compliance box. They perceive quality security testing as an unnecessary and costly annoyance that stands in the way of new revenue.  These businesses test because they are required to, not because they want to.  These requirements stem from partners, customers, and regulations that include but are not limited to PCI-DSS, HIPAA, etc.

Unfortunately these requirements make the problem worse rather than better.  For example, while PCI requires merchants to receive penetration tests it completely fails to provide […]

Don’t become a Target

All of the recent news about Target, Neiman Marcus, and other businesses being hacked might be a surprise to many but it’s no surprise to us. Truth is that practice of security has devolved into a political image focused designed satisfy technically inept regulatory requirements that do little or nothing to protect critical business assets. What’s worse is that many security companies are capitalizing on this devolution rather than providing effective solutions in the spirit of good security. This is especially true with regards to the penetration testing industry.

We all know that money is the lifeblood of business and that a failure to meet regulatory requirements threatens that lifeblood. After all, when a business is not in compliance it runs the risk of being fined or not being allowed to operate. In addition the imaginary expenses associated with true security are often perceived as a financial burden (another lifeblood threat). This is usually because the RoI of good security is only apparent when a would-be compromise is prevented. Too many business managers are of the opinion that “it won’t happen to us” until they become a target and it does. […]

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