Demand for Stolen YouTube Credentials Surges in the Dark Web

The current cyber threat landscape is dominated by coronavirus-related attacks. As millions of people continue to work from home, cybercriminals are exploiting the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic to target collaboration tools, spread spear-phishing attacks, and recycle old usernames and passwords for credential dumping attacks.

A new trend follows up

  • Amidst all these threats, researchers from IntSights have observed yet another new trend in black markets and cybercrime forums. Over the past few weeks, they are witnessing a rapid rise in demand for stolen credentials of prominent YouTube accounts.
  • The surge in demand is attributed to the popularity of YouTube among online users during the quarantine.
  • “While YouTubers have always 'worked' from home, the recent uptick in the number and sophistication of attacks against home users has resulted in more bots (malware-infected computers) in which the attackers can search for access to specific services,” highlight IntSights researchers in their blog post.

Where does this lead to?

  • YouTube accounts from compromised computers or from logs of credentials can be of high value.
  • While stolen YouTube account credentials can be used to spread malware and launch fraud scams against viewers, they are also used to blackmail the account owner.
  • Cybercriminals see YouTube channels of popular personalities as a lucrative opportunity to generate revenue through extortion and other means.

What dark web actors want

  • As explained by IntSights, one snap poll run by an underground forum reveals that 80% of members want to see more YouTube credentials put up for sale. 
  • Another screenshot showed a seller auctioning over 680 YouTube accounts for a starting price of $400, some of which had as many as 40,000 subscribers.
  • The time limit of using these stolen credentials is often restricted to 24 hours before the actual owner contacts the YouTube support. 

Is there anything to worry about? 

While there are many ways to target YouTube channel owners, the recent study on stolen YouTube account credentials highlights that they were taken either from databases containing Google credentials or malware-infected computers.

“In the past, attackers used sophisticated phishing campaigns in combination with reverse proxy toolkits like Modlishka to defeat Google’s two-step verification (one-time password). However, none of the current sellers mention 2FA, which may mean these accounts did not opt-in for this additional security step," researchers added.