Feeds

Black market for malware a thriving place

It slices, it dices . . .

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Defcon The sale of Trojans, phishing kits and other types of malware thrives in a growing marketplace that resembles many of the more legitimate businesses that have set up shop online over the past decade.

With a wealth of online bazaars, 24-by-7 support and the ability for other buyers to weigh in on the quality of the products, this malware economy continues to make it easier to break into the shady world of computer crime.

Thomas Holt, a professor of criminal justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, presented data collected by his honey net team over the past 16 months at the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas. Adopting user-feedback ratings, independent reviews and discounts for bulk purchases, the malware business models often appear to mimic those of eBay, Yelp or Ronco.

"It's especially important thinking about stolen data, when there's time sensitive materials involved," Holt said during his presentation. "You can basically build a nice arsenal of attack tools by going to these sites."

Holt's research was gathered with the help of a team of grad students who monitor about 30 forums on IRC and the web. His discovery of a bubbling underground economy that mimics the public web isn't exactly new. But it does bring a fresh infusion of data that suggests the economy is maturing and expanding.

Any boob can jump on an online forum and claim to have a flaw-free Trojan, so many online marketplaces adopt buyer-feedback ratings. Many sites compile user comments to generate labels that get attached to each forum participant. A "ripper," for example, describes fraudulent sellers out to rip off buyers while a "verified seller" designates a user known to actually deliver products that work as advertised.

There are also sites that provide independent reviews that sellers with positive feedback can link to when advertising their wares.

"Thanks you for a FreeJoiner," reads one syntax challenged user review concerning a malware tool by that name. "Is the best program in its class that I have ever seen, the result of these use was not long in coming, weaknesses and suggestions on the work simply no!"

The sites unabashedly promote the virtues of the malware tools advertised. An ad for the Suicide DDoS bot, for example, promises the malware can be controlled via web access or IRC, injects code into trusted processes, and is not detected by antivirus programs. An ad for the PG Universal Grabber Trojan promises standard updates, bug fixes and optimization as part of the $700 purchase.

It would seem that buying naughty code is as easy as buying Britney's undies on eBay. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.