Team Xball — DDoS Extortion Hoax
“We are the Team Xball and we have chosen your website/network as target for our next DDoS attack.”
Is this the work of an expert hacking group or just a desperate extortion attempt?
First thing’s first: if you’ve come across this blog post because you’re worried about some rogue attack group called “Team Xball”, rest assured that this is an empty threat and merely an extortion attempt. Do not waste your time figuring how to load a bitcoin wallet and losing your business’ hard-earned cash.
Why are we so confident this is a hoax? For multiple reasons, actually:
- The attackers offer no evidence that they have the data they claim to have stolen
- We have received identical emails from multiple clients stating they’ve stolen the same generic information, e.g. ‘DataBase tax forms’
- All the DDoS attacks are scheduled for the same time. If you are planning to attack someone with a DDoS attack, it wouldn’t make sense to hit multiple targets at the same time since this would result in weaker attacks.
- In the email they write: “Once you have paid we will automatically get informed that it was your payment.”. There is no indication from the attacks they say they have carried out which would suggest this would even be possible, it just doesn’t make sense.
Extortion and ransom style attacks are a big focus for attackers in cyber space right now, with the most recent high profile attack being the WannaCry ransomware worm which was spread widely over the internet using the EternalBlue SMB exploit that the Shadow Brokers leaked from the NSA back in April.
Even though this time it was a hoax, as WannaCry proved there are more serious hackers out there which will act on their claims for ransom if not paid. If you are concerned that your website(s) may not be fully secured, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss we can help secure you from future attacks with our continuous monitoring platform.
For those interested, we post the full transcript of the email below:
“We are the Team Xball and we have chosen your website/network as target for our next DDoS attack.Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of the web site and we now have your information. We have DataBase tax forms, DOB, Names, Addresses, Credit card details, bank account full details and more sensitive data. Now, we can publish your details and your clients online who would damage the rating of the company and would create many problems for you.On Friday 16_06_2017_7:00p.m. GMT !!! We begin to attack your network servers and computers. We will produce a powerful DDoS attack — up to 250 Gbps. All data will be encrypted on computers Crypto-Ransomware. You can stop the attack beginning, if payment 1 bitcoin (2900 $). Do you have time to pay. If you do not pay before the attack 1 bitcoin the price will increase to 10 bitcoinsPlease send the bitcoin to the following Bitcoin address: 1Mwye9g9XjmxNFingdLbXwVPnocqtQATtEOnce you have paid we will automatically get informed that it was your payment.
What if I don’t pay?
If you decide not to pay, we will start the attack at the indicated date and uphold it until you do, there’s no counter measure to this, you will only end up wasting more money trying to find a solution. We will completely destroy your reputation amongst google and your customers and make sure your website will remain offline until you pay. We can publish your DataBase. This is not a hoax, do not reply to this email, don’t try to reason or negotiate, we will not read any replies. Once you have paid we won’t start the attack and you will never hear from us again! Please note that Bitcoin is anonymous and no one will find out that you have complied.”
- Raw CVE Coverage
- Risk Rating Coverage
- Remote Check Types
- Check Publication Lead Time
- Local/Authenticated vs Remote Check Prioritisation
- Software Vendor & Package Coverage
- Headline Vulnerabilities of 2021 Coverage
- Analysis Decisions
Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers, threat actors have to actively research type of vulnerability, location in vulnerable software and build an associated exploit.
Tenable release checks for 47.43% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 32.96%.
Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers and threat actors now have access to some of the information they were previously having to hunt themselves, speeding up potential exploit creation.
Tenable release checks for 17.12% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 17.69%.
The likelihood that exploitation in the wild is going to be happening is steadily increasing.
Tenable release checks for 10.9% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 20.69%.
We’re starting to lose some of the benefit of rapid, automated vulnerability detection.
Tenable release checks for 9.58% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 12.43%.
Any detection released a month after the details are publicly available is decreasing in value for me.
Tenable release checks for 14.97% of the CVEs they cover over a month after the CVE details have been published, and Greenbone release 16.23%.
With this information in mind, I wanted to check what is the delay for both Tenable and Greenbone to release a detection for their scanners. The following section will focus on vulnerabilities which:
- Have CVSSv2 rating of 10
- Are exploitable over the network
- Require no user interaction
These are the ones where an attacker can point their exploit code at your vulnerable system and gain unauthorised access.
We’ve seen previously that Tenable have remote checks for 643 critical vulnerabilities, and OpenVAS have remote checks for 450 critical vulnerabilities. Tenable release remote checks for critical vulnerabilities within 1 month of the details being made public 58.4% of the time, but Greenbone release their checks within 1 month 76.8% of the time. So, even though OpenVAS has fewer checks for those critical vulnerabilities, you are more likely to get them within 1 month of the details being made public. Let’s break that down further.
In Figure 10 we can see the absolute number of remote checks released on a given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability has been published. What you can immediately see is that both Tenable and OpenVAS release the majority of their checks on or before the CVE details are made public; Tenable have released checks for 247 CVEs, and OpenVAS have released checks for 144 CVEs. Then since 2010 Tenable have remote released checks for 147 critical CVEs and OpenVAS 79 critical CVEs on the same day as the vulnerability details were published. The number of vulnerabilities then drops off across the first week and drops further after 1 week, as we would hope for in an efficient time-to-release scenario.
While raw numbers are good, Tenable have a larger number of checks available so it could be unfair to go on raw numbers alone. It’s potentially more important to understand the likelihood that OpenVAS or Tenable will release a check of a vulnerability on any given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability is released. In Figure 11 we can see that Tenable release 61% their checks on or before the date that a CVE is published, and OpenVAS release a shade under 50% of their checks on or before the day that a CVE is published.
So, since 2010 Tenable has more frequently released their checks before or on the same day as the CVE details have been published for critical vulnerabilities. While Tenable is leading at this point, Greenbone’s community feed still gets a considerable percentage of their checks out on or before day 0.
I thought I’d go another step further and try and see if I could identify any trend in each organisations release delay, are they getting better year-on-year or are their releases getting later? In Figure 12 I’ve taken the mean delay for critical vulnerabilities per year and plotted them. The mean as a metric is particularly influenced by outliers in a data set, so I expected some wackiness and limited the mean to only checks released 180 days prior to a CVE being published and 31 days after a CVE being published. These seem to me like reasonable limits, as anything greater than 6 months prior to CVE details being released is potentially a quirk of the check details and anything after a 1-month delay is less important for us.
What can we take away from Figure 12?
- We can see that between 2011 and 2014 Greenbone’s release delay was better than that of Tenable, by between 5 and 10 days.
- In 2015 things reverse and for 3 years Tenable is considerably ahead of Greenbone by a matter of weeks.
- But, then in 2019 things get much closer and Greenbone seem to be releasing on average about a day earlier than Tenable.
- For both the trendline over an 11-year period is very close, with Tenable marginally beating Greenbone.
- We have yet to have any data for 2021 for OpenVAS checks for critical show-stopper CVEs.
With the larger number of checks, and still being able to release a greater percentage of their remote checks for critical vulnerabilities Tenable could win this category. However, the delay time from 2019 and 2020 going to OpenVAS, and the trend lines being so close, I am going to declare this one a tie. It’s a tie.
The takeaway from this is that both vendors are getting their checks out the majority of the time either before the CVE details are published or on the day the details are published. This is overwhelmingly positive for both scanning solutions. Over time both also appear to be releasing remote checks for critical vulnerabilities more quickly.