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World of botnet cybercrime paying pretty well these days

Ellen Messmer | Dec. 20, 2012
The world of cybercrime is getting more specialized as an eco-sphere of helpers in running botnet operations has developed, according to one security researcher who spent over a year monitoring online forums and communities.

- Specialized password cracking ("Cloud Cracking"): $17 for 300 million attempts, which takes about 20 minutes.

- Installing malicious code on a victim's computer: $110 per 1,000 installs in the U.S. But it costs only $8 in Asia, probably because there's more money to be made in the U.S. and computers in Asia tend to be highly compromised by malware already, Manky points out.

Manky says cybercrime today appears to more frequently adopt English as the global lingua franca for communications in online forums, including those once viewed as exclusively Russian. However, Chinese operations don't seem to use English that much, he says.

There are many ways that online cybercrime today more and more mirrors commercial business activity. For instance, in one forum Manky infiltrated he spotted some serious data analytics being done on what were hundreds of thousands of compromised computers used in a botnet to determine the nature of the computer owners. "It was data-mining," he notes.

The report points out that governments around the world have found it very hard to stop the cybercrime wave, though there are a few successes of note, such as some big botnet takedowns in the past few years.

But aside from dismantling a botnet's command-and-control center, another preventative way to curb crimeware is to not allow people to register these domains," the Fortinet report says. "As much as China has been chided for its lax cyber policing, the country has taken several positive steps towards legitimizing registration for their domains (.CN), including relying on paper-based registration forms to better screen and maintain quality over who is registering domains. Also, the Conficker Working Group helped to filter out domains in advance before they could be registered to prevent the spread of that particular botnet."


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