Analysis of World Check data leak by Risk Based Security: Hackers & Collectives
In early July, it was revealed that a Thomson Reuters service known as World-Check had licensed information to a client that subsequently failed to secure the database. The leak, discovered by Chris Vickery, affected over 2.2 million persons identified as “heightened-risk individuals” that had been included in the World-Check database between 3/17/2000 and 9/17/2014.
Shortly after the discovery, Risk Based Security performed an analysis of the data and published our findings. The original analysis included a review of the type of data discovered, along with some statistics for the various data field options. While this provided good insight into the type of persons and organizations tracked by the service, our researchers felt that there was more to the story specifically as it relates to our work on the Arrest Tracker project. A follow-on analysis was done, looking more closely at entries relating to hackers, hacktivism and information security in general. After searching for notable names in the dataset, we discovered that convicted hackers, known hacker groups and collectives had been entered into the World-Check database. The results were interesting, with some anticipated findings as well as some surprises.
Considering that World-Check could be considered a blacklist of sorts and is used to comply with Know Your Customer regulations, the additional analysis provides even more insight into how these systems work.
Read their whole report, as it lists well-known collectives from recent years (they found 130 collectives), individuals, and the kinds of sources World Check uses in compiling information. With respect to individuals, they report:
In total, research identified approximately 36 individuals within the dataset with the TERRORISM classification and corresponding links to cyber crime. Stepping back from the TERRORISM label, our researchers identified 931 entries out of a total of 2,248,125 entries in the database that were directly related to cybercrime.
With respect to sources World Check uses, in addition to expected resources like DOJ and mainstream news outlets, DataBreaches.net has reportedly been cited as a reference in their report(s), as is cyberwarnews.info, HackRead, and thehackernews.com. Well, we knew our work may not meet Google’s demands for what’s considered a “news” site, but those looking for info on hacking and hackers seem to know where to find it.
CORRECTION: Post-publication, thehackernews.com url was corrected. Thanks to the alert reader who caught my error, which I, in turn, blame on RBS. 🙂