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New, odd SSH brute force behavior

Published: 2011-11-06
Last Updated: 2011-11-06 13:40:25 UTC
by Tom Liston (Version: 2)
17 comment(s)

Over the past 72 hours, I've noticed a shift in the types of brute force attacks I'm seeing on my SSH honeypot.  Generally, SSH attacks consist of hundreds (or thousands) of authentication attempts, each using a different username/password combination. Over the past few days, however, I'm seeing multiple IP addresses attempting to use *one* password against *one* account: root/ihatehackers.

In a sense, a single IP address taking a "one-off" shot at root doesn't really even qualify as "brute-force" and is... well... barely an attack. What I find interesting about this new behavior is the number of different sources I'm seeing for this single, somewhat lame hack.

So, how widespread is this behavior?  Is anyone else seeing it?  Also, does anyone have any idea what this attack is about?  As I said, on the surface, this looks kinda lame, but perhaps someone out there knows something I don't...

Tom Liston
Senior Security Analyst - InGuardians, Inc.
SANS ISC Handler
Twitter: @tliston

UPDATE: I was asked to provide sanitized logs:

2011-11-03 17:41:25+0000 [61.78.62.43] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-03 18:30:00+0000 [218.1.67.151] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-03 19:18:39+0000 [189.14.99.226] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-03 20:07:04+0000 [210.202.196.250] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-03 21:59:28+0000 [69.162.65.138] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-03 23:34:51+0000 [69.162.70.2] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 01:13:52+0000 [58.63.241.209] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 02:58:31+0000 [213.151.174.158] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 04:36:07+0000 [210.42.35.1] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 05:30:05+0000 [218.1.67.151] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 09:56:59+0000 [122.70.144.168] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 18:11:26+0000 [122.70.144.168] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 19:32:57+0000 [83.3.229.114] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 20:55:07+0000 [69.162.70.2] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-04 22:16:54+0000 [69.162.70.2] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-05 03:54:31+0000 [69.162.70.2] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-05 10:49:53+0000 [189.14.99.226] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-05 13:17:03+0000 [122.70.144.168] root - password used: ihatehackers
2011-11-05 17:59:59+0000 [83.3.229.114] root - password used: ihatehackers

I've checked, and each of these IP addresses is publicly (f)logged elsewhere as performing SSH attacks, so I decided that "sanitizing" the attacker's address wasn't really necessary.

Additionally, by following public mentions of these addresses, I believe I've found more information on this phenomenon. In a series of blog posts on his "That Grumpy BSD Guy" site, Peter Hansteen discusses what he calls the "Hail Mary Cloud."  Interesting reading.

Finally, for whatever it's worth, my honeypot system tweets a delayed feed of many attacks (but, sadly not SSH currently... I'll try to remedy that). You can see what's happening by following @netmenaces on Twitter.

Keywords: bruteforce SSH
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