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Stay Away from Versus Market – It has been hacked

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Versus market was hacked a few hours ago by alphabay admin Desnake. He did not steal any money from the market because he wanted to show users how insecure this market is and to protect its users from getting busted by LE. Here is the full statement by Desnake on Dread forum:

Disclaimer: Before I begin with the post I would like to point out that I do not have anything against WilliamGibson (versus admin) himself. Yes I do not think security (getting hacked 3 times) and stability (offline almost all the time during DDoS) is on point for their status as a marketplace even more so 3 years down the line. Yes their inability to get their Staff issues/communication spills over the business and the posts from customers speaks for that. However at the very least they kept going and were providing a platform for people to trade.

I was contacted around a day ago by the hacker /u/threesixty about the security issues on Versus. As with everything I take it with a cup full of salt before I do my own verification. I took a look at his profile and of course it was a new one which led me even further to believe this to be FUD. He had created a post on Versus subdread /post/e408c16ab482106c4eea/ which got suprisingly little attention for the details that it was outlining and claiming.

I decided to ask him for further details and in an encrypted PGP message he provided an interesting amount of information. Now anyone could have created that information so the only way to verify it was to test myself. I was almost certain it had been patched by Versus… but even after the post threesixty had done the vulnerability was still sitting there plain as day allowing anyone to browse through the system and potentially escalate to full control over the server.

Together with the good-willed hacker 360, we were able to get even more proof on top what he had recovered initially that indeed it is the real server of Versus. All proof was provided to Paris right before putting this post up.

The Vulnerability
Testing the vulnerability was straightforward and as threesixty said a textbook one. There was no complexity in it or discovering it. How no one has reported it or fixed in 3 years I or him do not understand. Complete props go to him for finding it.

The Impact
Complete takeover. Database, files, cryptocurrency wallets (of course those that have used multisig are okay either way), real IP exposed etc. Complete pwn.

From threesixties (and mine) side nothing has been taken or modified in any shape or form. Only information was downloaded such as databases and files (including system ones to prove the existence) which would allow us to prove the vulnerability exists to other high ranking people like /u/Paris . Cryptocurrency wallets were never touched.

Given the issues with security that are now happening for the 3rd time in the markets history, Staff problems also affect Versus. I have no doubt that affects the security and maintenance of the marketplace. Staff are a core part of the marketplace without Staff administrators are nothing and vice versa. So for all of you marketplace admins make sure your Staff are well, financially and in other ways. When you are an employer it is your duty to ensure you create a good environment for individual employees to thrive and grow both professionally and personally.

I do know that Huxley, Poe, Gibson and Rowling have had some differences in opinion that came to a head about two weeks ago, and they’re probably still kind of simmering about that. I won’t go into detail, because that’s their business, but just saying, you’re probably not going to get an instant reply on this thread. There were a lot of factors, a lot of… underlying issues, a lot of kind of hurtful things were said, and it was honestly kind of ugly. I’ve been talking with all of them, seeing it from all sides, and while I’m honestly kind of hesitant to pick sides on that whole mess, considering I don’t have any sort of actual bond to the market itself anymore, I will say some things definitely could stand to have a bit of a shake-up in the process it’s been handled with.

Of course, I could be wrong. These guys that I’ve known for almost a decade could have decided to go completely irrational at the drop of a hat, burning not only these names but also their entire reputation for the rest of their careers on the Darknet.

My point is, be careful, all.

What I am trying to get to here is it all starts within. Bad Staff management leads to poor handling of tickets, lack of care for either customers or vendors, lack of any upkeep on servers and network and so on. As a marketplace putting up a patch is not enough e.g. restarting your services because they went down due to DDoS. Ask yourself why did they go down what is the core issue, it is all in the logs. That is how you solve the core of the problems not treat the aftermath with painkillers figuretively speaking. Not everyone has this way of thinking and that is fine but as a marketplace, a reputable one, it is your duty to have your shit in order.

I would also not be surprised that some of the ‘phishing’ of high ranking vendors that has happened had actually been hacked accounts from the database. Lots of reputable vendors got ‘phished’ with no clear explanation in sight. I am assuming another hacker has the Versus database as well and knows about this or other vulnerabilities and has abused their access.

In spirit of full disclosure currently Versus markets backend seem to be giving a white screen of death which may or not be related to the thinkering myself and /u/threesixty had been doing. That white screen has happened before which would mean we have not caused it or… someone else has had access to files and databases like we did and has abused it to DoS the backend into submission. If it had been a result of our testing we apologize.

We hope to have a fruitful conversation about security on marketplaces especially on established ones. Since day one my goal with AlphaBay was security followed by stability and usability and in the era of takedowns, DDoS (which further exposes your infrastructure as a marketplace) and rinse and repeat scams like those of groups like lovelace, administrators can not allow themselves not to test every single user input and sanitize it.

Further how an active Web Application Firewall (WAF) is not present on Versus is also beyond me. A lot of features of ‘security’ seem to be missing by a ‘security-driven marketplace’ like Versus claims to be. Admins should not be slacking when it comes to the security of their customers who are both buyers and vendors. The results are known what happens when you let go and do not follow the security guideliness. Security is not a product, it is a never-ending process.

Both threesixty and myself have the best intentions. That is why we did not leak the database or stole any coins. For me personally, 3 times is too much of anything but as with everything we should at least be grateful for what we have first and then work on improving it second.

Thank you.

The hack was also confirmed by dread admn Paris. He said:

/u/DeSnake has provided me the exploit and rational. I have personally verified it.


The exploit is extremely simple but compromising. It allows for full access to the underlining file system on the server. This include information within the /etc/ directory as well as wallet directories. It is a full information compromise of the system. Everything to the server’s IP address, to the backup of the database in the admin home folder, to the wallet files themselves. I am able to traverse nearly the entire file system with web server level access. There is no jail, WAF, and minimal care to limit the information disclosure in the event of a web server compromise. I am able to view the history of IP addresses which have previously accessed the server.

This is a major compromise and it is very easy to find and pull off. Even a simple scriptkitty that is running a web server tester will find this exploit. /u/WilliamGibson I will be passing this information over to you. This shouldn’t be a problem with even the most basic jailing practices on the web server layer.

Until such time as this is fixed nobody should use Versus. I can’t say that enough. This entire server is probably compromised already by law enforcement and being monitored. It is a total compromise and is without a doubt one of the worse outcomes to a simple security exploit I have seen in a very long time.

We advize everyone to stay away from this market. This market is extremely dangerous to use and may end you up in prison.

What do you think?

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Written by Kofi Anash

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