One year after thieves infiltrated Target’s cash registers, a website openly sells millions of credit and debit card numbers stolen in that data breach and many others.
Anyone can log on to the site, rescator.cc, and shop for cards by ZIP code. This illegal marketplace is the most glaring reminder that no one has been brought to justice in the massive theft of Target customer data.
Federal authorities declined to say anything about their investigation, which is being led by the U.S. Secret Service. Yet cybersecurity professionals have named one person they believe is linked to the stolen card website: a Ukrainian hacker named Andrey Hodirevski.
Brian Krebs is the blogger who broke the Target breach story and first named Hodirevski a year ago. “He may not be rescator, but it’s pretty clear that he knows the people who are and probably is in touch with them,” Krebs said.
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Two other security pros say Hodirevski almost certainly has a hand in running the site. Dmitry Volkov, head of investigations at Russian computer security company Group-IB, said in an interview that Hodirevski goes by the nickname “rescator” and has for several years been on his company’s radar as a carder, or dealer in stolen payment card info. He said Hodirevski was a main member of DarkLife, a defunct Russian-language hack team.
“He has a high reputation and credibility among other carders and hackers,” Volkov told the Star Tribune. “He is not just another carder.”
Mark Lanterman, a former member of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and now chief technology officer at Computer Forensic Services in Minnetonka, Minn., said the evidence points to Hodirevski.
“It’s circumstantial, but there’s a lot of it,” Lanterman said. “His website is up and active and going stronger than ever, which is disappointing.”
In a conference room at his Minnetonka offices, Lanterman logs in to rescator.cc. Over the past year, he’s found information on the site from tens of thousands of cards stolen from Target stores linked to Minnesota ZIP codes. This fall, he found information from at least 12,000 cards stolen from Home Depot, all linked to Minnesota ZIP codes and selling for $9 to $52 each.
The shop operates in the open now, he said.
Lanterman believes that rescator sells the software that hackers have used to break into retailers’ point-of-sale computers. Then buyers customize it for victims such as Target, and others install it and do the rest of the dirty work, and give rescator the stolen card information to sell.
Watching traffic on rescator.cc tests Lanterman’s patience.
“I get American law enforcement can’t just drive to Russia and pick him up and bring him back to the station. But he has an infrastructure, and I don’t know that enough has been done to disrupt it.”
From his house in Annandale, Va., his shotgun nearby, blogger Krebs tracks organized cybercrime groups, particularly those in Eastern Europe.
Krebs became a minor celebrity after breaking the news of Target’s breach last year and then following a trail of digital bread crumbs, such as usernames from rescator, to Hodirevski.
Krebs blogged on Krebsonsecurity.com that rescator is a leading member of Lampeduza, a ring of card thieves organized in a hierarchy modeled on ancient Rome, using aliases such as Flavius and Octavius.
(The name rescator, however, likely refers to the pirate character by that name in the 1967 French adventure film “Untamable Angelique.”)
Krebs linked rescator to the online alias Helkern or “hel.” The domain Helkern was first registered to Andrey Hodirevski from Illichivsk, a seaport just down the Black Sea coast from Odessa.