Feeds

Russian ransomware SMS smut-scam raised $30k

And 'penis' is Russian for what?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A ransomware-based malware scam allowed Russian cybercrooks to fleece an estimated 2,500 surfers to the tune of almost $30k.

Unwary smut-seekers visiting a porno site found their machines disabled by a Trojan. They were told to solve the problem by sending an SMS to a premium-rate number at a cost of $12 (360 roubles), and a substantial minority did so.

Surfers might have protected themselves by regularly backing up important data, using anti-virus defences or (perhaps best of all) avoiding the temptation to trawl the web's lower depths.

Such ransomware campaigns crop up periodically, often in Russia. However, an analysis by Trend Micro, published on Wednesday, is the first we've come across to put a figure on the number of victims or profits from this type of illicit activity.

The malware strain associated with the scam, identified by Trend as the Rixobot-A worm, was apparently downloaded for one location more than 137,000 times in December 2010 alone. The security firm was able to get into a website database used by the crooks to chart the success of their campaign, in particular its "conversion rate" between malware click through rates and revenues.

The scam brought in almost $30K - US$29,435 or 901,245 RUR - in revenues in just five weeks.

"In our research, we were able to access a panel that was used to keep track of the specific income generated by at least 60 phone numbers used in ransomware campaigns," writes Nart Villeneuve, a senior threat researcher at Trend Micro.

"The list contains 60 phone numbers displayed by the ransomware and used to receive funds from victims."

"Based on our findings, this campaign was able to generate 901,245 RUR (US$29,435) over the last five weeks. With a payment of approximately US$12 per transaction, this indicates that 2,500 people paid the ransom. Users are thus advised to be more wary about their online activities."

Trend Micro's write-up of the scam, containing screenshots of the control panel and a screenshot from an infected machine, can be found here. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.