Spamming Group's Database Records Leaked, Affects Almost 1.4 Billion Email Records

By Victor Thomson , Mar 07, 2017 03:20 AM EST

Steve Ragan of CSO Online and MacKeeper's Chris Vickery discovered a database leak that contained almost 1.4 billion records. The data was left completely exposed, wasn't even secured by a username or password.

Latest Data Leak Scandal

According to Forbes, Vickery explained that the database was left unprotected by a spamming group calling themselves River City Media (RCM). The group is responsible for sending up to a billion daily emails. The leak exposed numerous documents that revealed the inner workings of RCM's spam operation, in addition to spilling over a billion email addresses tied to real names and, in some cases, IP addresses and physical addresses.

Computerworld reported that RCM accumulated that list via offers for credit checks, "free" gifts, education opportunities, sweepstakes and techniques like co-registration. RCM, led by known spammers Matt Ferris and Alvin Slocombe pretends to be a legitimate marketing firm. However, the spamming group uses illegal hacking techniques.

RCM Spamming Group Investigated

Vickery worked with Spamhaus and CSO to investigate the leak. The researchers found chat logs revealing that spammers used a type of Slowloris attack to distribute their spam emails. As a result, RCM's entire infrastructure is now blacklisted by Spamhaus.

The researchers also sent Apple, Microsoft, and others details about abusive scripts and techniques and notified law enforcement. Based on the hard drive backups, spreadsheets and chat logs in their possession, Vickery and Ragan intend to reveal more about the RCM operation. While leaks of personal information on this scale are a reason for concern, the good news here is that alongside the data that RCM leaked was information that helped Vickery, Ragan, and Spamhaus to identify key components of the spammers' infrastructure.

Some of those documents show that spamming can be a very profitable activity. For instance, one leaked text show that in a single day of activity the spamming group targeted AOL users with 15 million emails and Gmail users with 18 million emails. The spamming operation brought in around $36,000 profit.

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