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The 'Malware Economy' Evolves 100

Posted by Zonk
from the when-blackmail-is-business dept.
superglaze writes "ZDNet UK has a feature on how the malware economy is turning into a recognizable traditional IT economy. Leasing botnets? Malware support? Welcome to the new age of computing. As the piece suggests, it's all gone Darwinian. 'One indication of the maturity of the black economy, according to Telafici, was the recent case of a hacker who wrote a packer [software used to bypass antivirus protection], "threw in the towel recently as it wasn't profitable enough -- there's too much competition. They opened the source code and walked away."'"
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The 'Malware Economy' Evolves

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  • Oblig.. (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by fizzer82 (1201947)
    Cracker not hacker!! ARRRGGHHHH OMFG the mainstream media is screwing us geeks over again.

    There whining is covered, please continue with OT discussion...

    • Re:Oblig.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:30PM (#21699276) Journal
      So you're saying the editor is a slacker and the hacker who wrote the packer should be a cracker?
      • Yeah ... he's quacker who once worked for Stacker, but now he's just a slacker cracker with no backer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)
      A "cracker" is a "hacker".
      • Most crackers aren't hackers - they're just script kiddies or [NYCaccent]biznessmen[/NYCaccent] running software and services they didn't develop themselves and may not have even customized much.

        These days there's enough division of labor that the hackers who develop malware aren't the people who run most of it. Sometimes the hackers are individual shops, and sometimes they're working for mafiya guys, and there's enough volume out there that hand-crafted malware isn't as necessary. For instance, if you

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by Frosty Piss (770223)

          Most crackers aren't hackers - they're just script kiddies...
          You may not like it, it may hurt your ego a bit if you define yourself as a "hacker", but the truth is that "Skript Kiddies" are "hackers" too, just not very good ones.

          The whole termonology is silly anyway.

      • Please look at the definition of hack [catb.org] and how it's different from cracking [catb.org]

        For those who hate reading: A hack is pretty much a clever trick. A crack is something that does all that security breaking stuff.

        • Yes, and breaking through someone's supposedly invulnerable security undetected is a pretty clever trick.
          • by Z34107 (925136)

            If you were the one who did the original breaking and figured everything out.

            If you're some kind of script kiddie using said programatic ingenuity without any comprehension or understanding, you are most definitely not a hacker.

            Crackers are the Bards making "Use Magic Device" checks. Hackers are the Wizards with ranks in "Craft Wondrous Item." Oh wait, that didn't involve cars...

  • Really, we've been talking about the Economic basis of spam [slashdot.org] for some time. I've commented [slashdot.org] and journaled [slashdot.org] on how the economics of spam make most current solutions meaningless in the greater fight.

    So now when we see yet another article discussing the money that is made in malware, particularly the botnets that drive spammers, there's no reason why anyone should find this surprising.
    • by ahaning (108463)
      It's a good thing you linked to that previous story, your post, and your journal, because unlike you and me, most other people don't read and remember every Slashdot article, post, and journal. Now that I actually take the time to click on those links, they're all from the past two weeks!
      • they're all from the past two weeks!

        If you'd like, you could also read my journal entry from September 30th [slashdot.org] where I discussed the economic role of spam, and why filtering is the wrong answer. I know I also discussed it in forums starting then or earlier, but as I am not a subscriber, I can only look at my own last 24 postings from my page here.

        If there was an easy way for me to peruse my own old postings, I could show some of my earlier messages to this same effect. These more recent ones were just easier to access quickly.

    • I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed the fly. I guess she'll die.

      It's all the economy of the threat escalation / threat deterrence software industry.

    • Looking at your journal, it's clear you're a raving idiot. Spam is caused by bad registrars, you say!

      Whatever. When we finally get registrars to pull spam sites, if we actually DID want them to do that, they'd just use IP addresses -- or should we make using an IP address illegal, too?

      I don't know what your angle is, but it sounds like you just need to calm down and change email addresses to a subdomain. Nobody Rumpelstiltskins those, of course. It essentially ENDS spam. 99% solution. When I changed m
      • Looking at your journal, it's clear you're a raving idiot

        Looking at your comment, its clear you didn't actually read the journal entries. But we'll continue on...

        Spam is caused by bad registrars, you say!

        No, I said that bad registrars allow spam to happen by being complacent. Those are two very different statements. Your statement carries an implication that you feel I'm aiming to say that registrars are themselves sending the spam. This conclusion is patently false. I am saying that there are complacent registrars that are making money from spam and hence are not willing to do their part to

        • They have a distributed botnet. They'll just distribute the http traffic over the botnet and deliver the payload via a decentralized onion-style network, again, on their botnet, like tor. Or they'll just use p2p technology and a pki that allows them to be the only ones able to decrypt the data stuffed into it.

          Going after the registrars will only be a temporary solution.

          You're right that as long as they make money, they'll keep doing it.

          People just need to learn not to send money to a site without a browse
          • They have a distributed botnet. They'll just distribute the http traffic over the botnet and deliver the payload via a decentralized onion-style network, again, on their botnet, like tor.

            The current accepted model is that the spammers pay for time on the botnet. That makes it easy to dump a ton of spam through it, because that doesn't take long. I doubt that the spammers really want to use the botnet for web hosting, where they would potentially want to rent it for days. And beyond that, the dynamic nature of their botnet would require a mess of routing in order to make sure that the http and https requests get to systems on the botnet that are up.

            Going after the registrars will only be a temporary solution.

            Let me know when you start seein

            • Let me know when you start seeing a large amount of spam that doesn't refer to the websites by a domain name. Well over 99% of the spam, and likely a solid 100% of the phishing emails that I see rely on using a domain name in the link, likely for the reasons that I've outline before. The spammers just don't have as much to gain by using a numeric address over a domain name. If they change their game drastically, I'll then concede that point.

              All my spam currently is 419 spam. I don't get fished. Thus there's no domain name in the link, so concede your point.

              Thats extremely condescending, but I guess it matches your tone from your first reply. You also seem to be overlooking the fact that many of these spamvertised sites are targeting extremely vulnerable people. Have you considered how many people are online now that are on medicare / medicaid? If you tell these people that they can buy their prescriptions for less than half the usual price, they'd love to listen. And then if your site looks legit, and authenticates legitimately, they may well fall for it. Do 80+ year old senior citizens really "deserve" to be taken advantage of by criminals?

              Yeah, the old people vote Republican, so I say fuck them. They're borrowing off my future taxes. FUCK THEM!

              And did you ever take a look at the percentage of spams for male enhancement? I just opened up an old gmail account that's been spammed constantly despite never having been used. 95% of them are for male enhancement. That must mean 95% of the victims are assholes (republicans,

              • All my spam currently is 419 spam. I don't get fished. Thus there's no domain name in the link, so concede your point.

                Except that spam is, by definition, unsolicited advertising. Nothing is advertised for sale in 419 spam, thus you are missing the point. Therefore no concession is necessary nor will any be given. Nice try, though.

                Yeah, the old people vote Republican, so I say fuck them. They're borrowing off my future taxes. FUCK THEM!

                If you were trying to make a point with that statement, I have no idea what it is or was. Unless you're just aiming to demonstrate the non-sensibility of the karma bonus here on slashdot.

                The only cheaper prescriptions I've seen are for male enhancement drugs, not any other drugs. They aren't targeted because they don't have money.

                Well, thats you own experience with spam. I see quite a few spam emails that offer plenty of

  • by spun (1352)
    That's a FUD goldmine, or a FUDmine, if you will. Damn, OSS enemies will be crowing about this: "open source leads to VIRUSES and MALWARE! Open source hackers create programs to take over your computer, how can you trust them?"
    • by russ1337 (938915)

      Open source hackers create programs to take over your computer, how can you trust them?"

      This article is right on the tail of a post on Schneier's blog about Chinese kids winning hacking prizes.. funded by the PLA.. [schneier.com]

      Hackers in the USA shouldn't be put out of business, they should be 'recruited' into cushy salaried jobs working for the Govt... One day they'll be the ones we HAVE to trust to defend us from attack.

      • by FLEB (312391)
        The Phone Losers of America? Are they still around?
      • "Hackers in the USA shouldn't be put out of business, they should be 'recruited' into cushy salaried jobs working for the Govt... One day they'll be the ones we HAVE to trust to defend us from attack."

        How about we lock them away for ten to twenty years or so while they are forced to work for the government and then let them out with a nice pension and lifelong monitoring? If we supply them with hookers and Mountain Dew while they're locked up they might not even care (or notice) that they're in prison.
  • by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:42PM (#21699444)
    This is only logical. A criminal will work for the quick buck. BnE is great when lots of people are leaving their windows open and you are the only burglar, but once every one is on the BnE bandwagonit's time to switch to mugging or extortion.
  • ...the predators will flourish.
  • by deviated_prevert (1146403) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:48PM (#21699524) Journal
    As I receive spam my conclusion is that the majority of bot nets are created by people like my Aunt. She thinks she is safe because she uses some obscure malware and e-mail detection system that seems to have appeared like magic to rescue her from the perils of the net. However her windows 98 kernel has obviously been rooted and she does not even know it.

    I keep getting spam traffic from her that is reassigned from a myriad of outlook express ex-emailers. I have told her that she will have to get her OS reinstalled but she just won't listen. I am afraid that the windows OS and the Microsoft way of computing has done little more than create a shit load of computer using zombies and little old ladies (like my aunt) who in blissful ignorance just keep up the status quo. The result of this blissful ignorance is that bot nets have become almost impossible to kill.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:58PM (#21699658)
      And this won't change as long as you're not responsible for your computer's actions.

      We have a license for everything. You need a license to drive, to prove you're able to steer a car without causing a problem. We (at least here) need a license for a gun, so you prove you're not just some maniac who wants to kill his wife's sisters. But even for "non-lethal" things like some jobs you need to prove you're able to handle what's put into your hands sufficiently professionally that you don't cause harm to anyone else.

      Now, I wouldn't really want a "driving license" for computers, but I'd very much enjoy seeing people taking some more responsibility for their computers and what they do to others on the internet. As we see now, this has become an economic problem. We waste a lot of bandwidth and work hours fighting spam, we have the sword of a DDoS looming over our heads due to botnets ready to strike, and it all boils down to people using rooted boxes and not even knowing it.

      Before you start crying about your freedom to use the net, be aware that sooner or later our legislators WILL react. They have to, the pressure from the industry is already tangible. And in our current environment, the result is very likely not one where people get better educated and more responsibility, instead we'll probably see laws regulating what kinds of machines you may attach to the net (and the accompanying locking of "insecure" machines from participation), and we know the current definition of "secure". It will pretty much lead to machines so heavily DRMed that Vista looks like open source compared to it.

      So either we start pushing towards more personal responsibility or we'll have something dumped on us that is the maybe least favorable alternative. Because the industry WILL start lobbying for protection from those rooted machines. And they don't care if you can use your computer for anything but playing prepared content. Actually, some would definitly like that.
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:12PM (#21699858)

        Now, I wouldn't really want a "driving license" for computers, but I'd very much enjoy seeing people taking some more responsibility for their computers and what they do to others on the internet
        http://www.ecdl.com/ [ecdl.com]

         
        • you won't need a driver's licence but you will be needing a programmer's licence

          in the form of a registered PGP signature

          and you will be liable/responsible for your code

          and for those without a registered and approved signature:

          NO SIGNATURE? NO EXECUTE.

          this hasn't been adopted as SOP yet but with the amount of hacking going on and Ms Windows continued promiscuity it is a rather likely direction
          • That will only partly solve the problem. Or rather, it will shift the problem.

            To create "secure" software, approved to be run in a tightly closed DRMified system, you'll need the "seal of approval" from some authority. That way you can avoid two "problems". First of all, the obivous one, malware. You can't get malware certified. But also software some companies would not want to exist. For example, software that lets you circumvent copy protection mechanisms.

            And here's where the problem lies: People DO want
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I concur with what you are saying but what about the malicious propaganda side of things http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=1&ct=result&cd=1&q=linux+botnet&spell=1 [google.ca] It seems to me that there is also lots of miss information out there, mostly in the form of blogs from so-called security experts, trying desperately to defame open source software!
      • Licensing is clearly unrealistic. But how about charging some nominal fee (say $0.10, ala SMS) for each outgoing email msg? All of a sudden people will really care about how many outgoing emails their computer sends out, and you betcha if Aunty gets a nice hefty bill she'll make sure to reinstall the OS to get rid of that pesky (and costly) malware.
        • If the gigantic bills stuck, yes, but they would never stick. The first time someone received a $10,000 invoice for all the e-mail his computer sent out because it was compromised, he'd wind up on TV being portrayed as the innocent victim who was waylaid by the evil hacker. Odds are, there would be some kind of public outcry that threatened the reputation of whatever governing body was responsible for collecting the fee, and the jackass would wind up paying not one cent.

          It happens all the time. Gullible
        • nope it's the way to go

          we need detection and response

          detection is a technical point and we will need to change the rules to require you PGP signature for every piece of code published with the guide:

          NO SIGNATURE? NO EXECUTE.

          once we know who you are we can hold you responsible for your program and this is the RESPONSE aspect of security

          don't think it won't happen and don't think it's silly. the current flood of maleware mandates improved security. detection and response are critical elements of security.
          • by init100 (915886)

            I don't think so. A government-mandated signature system would probably rather use PKI. Your key would need a(n expensive) signature from Verisign or another "trusted" signer. That would also scare away hobby programmers, and leave programming an exclusive domain of major companies, which we all know never make mistakes, and when they do, they can afford a few millions in fines.

      • by myvirtualid (851756) <pwwnow.gmail@com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:42PM (#21700310) Journal

        Your post advocates a
        ( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

        approach to fighting spam.

        Furthermore, your approach appears to require a level of international cooperation akin to
        ( ) Passing a meaningless UN resolution
        ( ) Negotiating a world wide free trade agreement
        ( ) private, i.e., commercial and civil, law
        ( ) Banning land mines
        ( ) Adding a permanent member to the UN Security Council
        ( ) Achieved balanced copyright reform
        ( ) Censuring Cowboy Neal
        (X) Doing anything truly useful about climate change
        ( ) Eliminating Britney Spears

        Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction before a useful treaty can be negotiated.)
        ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
        ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
        ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
        ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
        (X) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
        (X) Users of email will not put up with it
        ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
        ( ) The police will not put up with it
        ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
        (X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
        ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
        ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
        ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

        Specifically, your plan fails to account for
        ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
        (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
        (X) Open relays in foreign countries
        ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
        (X) Asshats
        (X) Jurisdictional problems
        (X) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
        ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
        ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
        (X) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
        ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
        (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
        ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
        ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
        ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
        (X) Technically illiterate politicians
        (X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
        (X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
        ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
        ( ) Outlook

        and the following philosophical objections may also apply:
        (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
        ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
        ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
        (X) Blacklists suck
        ( ) Whitelists suck
        ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
        ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
        ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
        (X) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
        ( ) Sending email should be free
        (X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
        ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
        (X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
        ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
        ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
        ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

        Furthermore, this is what I think about you:
        ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
        ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
        ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!
        (X) uh, come to think of it, I have no particular opinion of you nor any desire to form one.

      • so you prove you're not just some maniac who wants to kill his wife's sisters.

        But Homer Simpson DID get a gun, remember?
        • Yeah, but he has problems with alcohol, was in a mental institution and beat up presid... former president Bush. So he was limited to 3 handguns or less.

          See? The system works!
      • by readin (838620)
        Perhaps having "the internet" so thoroughly locked down that you can't do anything with it would be a good thing. The whole "free" and "open" aspect has been a big problem in my opinion. If, from day one, the internet had not existed, proprietary networks like Prodigy would have taken off and done much better. With several proprietary networks competing, you can bet they would have been extremely motivated to develop technologies within the network to prevent spamming, DOS attacks, and other malware proble
        • The problem is, which company would you hand the incredibly powerful opinion maker the internet is? Don't tell me "free market would have created competition" or similar BS. Free market is dead. Today is the time of the cartel. What makes you think that the internet would have gone any other was than the music or the media business?

          Not to mention that with some company controling the net, they can invariably decide who may create what kind of content, who may provide what service and, in a way, who may comp
      • Now, I wouldn't really want a "driving license" for computers, but I'd very much enjoy seeing people taking some more responsibility for their computers and what they do to others on the internet.

        So would I! (Hope the following makes sense, as I'm high on cold medicine.) This would require some education. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, all they are teaching kids in school about computers is typing and how to search online; the teens I've talked to don't even know what Unix is. I don't mean to sound se

        • This is entirely not true. They don't just tell the kids how to use a search engine.

          They also tell them that filesharing is evil and bad and only criminals do it. So much for learning to share...

          But I digress. I guess you're aware what such a "quiz" would look like if you leave it in the hands of the software manufacturers. We'd get quizzes that show off the new features of some product and how much better it is than anything there was or anything the competitors push out, with the mandated "push here to be
      • So if someone straps a bomb onto your car while it's sitting in a parking lot, you should be responsible for everything that happens to your car and everything else that is nearby when it blows. Because heck, you own the car and you were driving when it happened. After all, cars are inherently insecure and while we could choose to keep them snugly locked in our garages at home, we instead choose to use them in public places where other people could break into them, steal them, use them to do illegal thing
        • by FLEB (312391)
          Carbombing is an edge case. Think more along the lines of an improperly secured load (which is illegal in many jurisdictions) or forgoing maintenance until a catastrophic, preventable accident occurs.
        • Funny enough, under our legislation here (and I wouldn't be surprised if that holds true in other countries, too), you'd be liable for that if the bomb is at any rate somehow noticable to you (like, you having a new extension to your trunk). Before you start your ride, you're required to check whether your car is safe for traffic. Now, while our legislator certainly meant that you should check your breaks and lights, I'm fairly sure it also applies to strap-on bombs.

          I'm not even expecting anyone to study CS
          • I have to disagree with you completely on this. Continuing the paralell, most people don't know they've been infected until the bomb goes off, at which point it is too late.
            • Oh, it's not like there are no clues that something's amiss with your PC in a good deal of the cases. Your friend suddenly complain about getting spam from you, your bank redirecting you to some offshore page for its links, strange new icons in your taskbar... of course, you'd have to know how to interpret those signs. But there is a bomb sitting next to you. If you decide to ignore it, of course you won't notice it 'til it goes kaboom.
    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:24PM (#21700050)
      I still don't understand why ISPs are not doing more about this. SPAM uses a large amount of the precious and limited bandwidth, but they filter p2p? I get 10 to 20 spam an hour. As I have more than one e-mail client (one on laptop, one at home, one at work...) each one gets passed off the SIP mail server 3 times for me. It also passes in to the ISP mail server once, so 20-30 messages times 4, times 24 hours times each user ads up to how much bandwidth? And this is why I can't seed my Ubuntu images?
      • by sootman (158191)
        Because, to be honest, that isn't very much bandwidth. Say you get one 25KB image spam per minute. That's 1.5 MB/hour. So unless you want to take 467 hours (over 19 days) to move one 700 MB .iso, there's your answer. If you want to add in all the bounces and forwards--hell, let's just be REALLY liberal with our numbers and multiply everything by ten. That's still almost 48 hours--two whole days--to move 700 MB. Considering that it should only be a couple HOURS to move 700 MB, we're talking about an order of
      • SPAM uses a large amount of the precious and limited bandwidth, but they filter p2p?

        p2p? Pork to palate? ITYM spam; SPAM uses no bandwidth, only pork and ham (and a few other ingredients).

        each one gets passed off the SIP mail server 3 times for me.

        How's that VOIP to email gateway working for you? ;-)

        I can't seed my Ubuntu images?

        If your ISP won't let you seed Ubuntu images, you should probably be shopping for a new ISP.

  • malware is great!
    such as Alibaba.com, a chinese company, well known for the malware 3721, can even make IPO for more than 1.3 billon dollars.
    that's why it is called "Historic IPO"
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:50PM (#21699554)

    I don't get it. One of the most popular uses for a botnet, according to the article, is for spam mailings. But how can spammers afford to pay any significant amount of money for the service? I understand that they're mailing out to millions of people and count on a high level of rejection, but how many people are stupid enough to open something that says, "5PL1t H3R 1n HALF WYTH YORE HUGE ORGAN"? Let's face it, half the population is female, and probably not interested (unless they're buying for their boyfriend, and wouldn't THAT be a kick-ass Christmas present); a majority of the male half of the population are probably reasonably satisfied with their equipment; and even a vast majority of those poor, pathetic guys who actually have "AY tiney Pinnus That You GIrflrend Lauff at" probably have an IQ in at least the high double digits (I mean, they figured out how to turn on a computer and collect their e-mail, at least). So they probably wouldn't open that message either.

    And then there's the spam filters, which are getting pretty good these days.

    So that leaves what percentage of the population stupid enough to open one of these things and infect their computers with something vile? And if they're that stupid, how likely is it that they have a bank account worth looting? Or that they haven't been hit before so often they just sign their paycheque over to the spammers automatically and save everybody a lot of trouble?

    Help. Somebody please explain it all to me.

    • I believe because it doesn't require that many bots to send a bajillion emails, and even if the response rate is 0.000001, they still make money.

      Put it another way - since spam is the major driver of botnets, the price of botnet rental will drop such that it's profitable for the spammers to use them, or spammers will use something else.

    • by uptownguy (215934) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:03PM (#21699736)
      This has to do with SPAM and not botnets...

      It's been said before, probably better than I can: The "mark" in the spam economy is NOT the person receiving the email. The "mark" is the person foolish enough to buy the Spam-in-a-box kit thinking they will be able to get a single person to buy their w0tches or v1agra. The money in spam is made not from the person foolish enough to buy the w0tches. The money is made in selling the service to spam millions of people.
      • by Besna (1175279) *
        Business in general tend to be rational. If the profit is not there, the product will not be used.
      • by sootman (158191)
        I have to disagree. If that were the case, eventually every would-be spammer would buy $1,000 worth of spams, get $500 in sales, and quit. My inbox begs to differ. Now, there certainly is a very, very large population of assholes who will someday be spammers and plenty of them will be too dumb to give up, but if none of them made meney, the problem would go away. Selling spam services to spammers might be easier money but the spammers are turning a profit. Remember, a 0.001 percent response rate on ten mill
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          And since stolen computers and stolen bandwidth cost the supplier very little, IF the number of spammers drops, the spam-suppliers will just make more enticing offerings: "The last round of 50 million messages didn't work? I've got a special this month: 500 million for the same price." The net result on your inbox will be the same.

          I think your second paragraph proved the grandparent's point.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The money is made in selling the service to spam millions of people.

        You are right! And I have to ask, once again, why, oh why aren't they going after the asshats who make lotsa money from this shit! The trail is there; every spam has to have a point of contact in order to benefit from it. Why aren't they cracking down on the very people who make money from spam? Who the hell else would be responsible for it?

        I can hear it now; "No, I didn't send all that spam out. Someone else must have done this to gift me
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679)

      Help. Somebody please explain it all to me.

      It's just arithmetic. Lets say...

      A bottle of V|4GR4 costs me £1.99 and sells for £9.99
      It takes 2 seconds to mail a spam mail.
      My broadband costs £14.99 per month.

      I basically need to make 3 sales per month to make a profit.

      There are 2592000 seconds in a month, it takes 2s to send each mail, that's 1.3 million spam mails.

      Only 0.0002% of the population mailed to need buy a bottle of V|4GR4 to make a profit.

      50% of the population have an IQ of 100 or lower. Basically I'm on to a winner.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mezron (132274)
      Well, if you think about it... how did all those machines become part of the botnet to begin with?
    • by camusflage (65105)
      Help. Somebody please explain it all to me.

      Simple. Most of those spam mailings for pharmaceuticals are simply affiliates of shady sites, earning a percentage of the take by people they "refer". If you make 10% of an average order of $150, that's $15 per customer. If you can send 50MM messages and convert .001% (we'll say you can sucker one in 100,000 people), you're still making $7,500. If you only paid $2,500 to send those 50MM messages, you're still $5,000 ahead of the game.

      Simply put, unless and until p
      • One thing that all spam messages must have, by definition: A website to sell their V14gra on. If you set up a botnet with 10,000 computers on it, you have the capacity to send 10 million messages a day for almost nothing. At the rate of .001%, that would be 100 orders a day.

        Since 95% of all spam is blocked by filters, we have a way of making spam a lot more expensive. Simply set the filters to respond to the website on the blocked spam with opt-out messages. All of a sudden, the spammers website is sl

    • I understand that they're mailing out to millions of people and count on a high level of rejection, but how many people are stupid enough to open something that says, "5PL1t H3R 1n HALF WYTH YORE HUGE ORGAN"?

      According to this [news.com] CNet article from 2004 the volume of email in North America alone was 31 Billion messages each day, approximately 90% of email is spam.

      So that is 27.9 Billion spam messages a day (in 2004). Let's be forgiving and say that only 5% of spam gets through filtering. That is 1.395 Billion spam messages a day get through to the inbox. If only 1 in 100,000 people responded that would still be over 10,000 responses daily. And these are the numbers from 2004.

      So that leaves what percentage of the population stupid enough to open one of these things and infect their computers with something vile?

      Um the vast majority of people wh

    • So that leaves what percentage of the population stupid enough to open one of these things and infect their computers with something vile?

      it isn't just "stupid" people

      recently one hacker incorporated his codes into some advertising and then paid an ad agency to publish the stuff. and you could pick up his maleware by checking scores on MLB

      FTC just shut down an online money processor for failure to exercise due diligence

      we've had enough of this crap. it is time to take action from several directions, t

      • by TyIzaeL (1203354)
        When you get a computer plugged up with "maleware" it is your fault. No one elses. Is it the dealer's fault if you drive around in your car with the emergency brake on all the time?

        Al malware-infested PC can be fixed, a large part of the problem is that users have no that there is a level of separation between hardware (the computer) and the software (the rooted OS). I know people who have thrown out decent computers just because they've got malware slowing it down and are too stupid to actually find a r
  • Utility Computing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Crispin Cowan (20238) <crispin@nOSpAM.crispincowan.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:16PM (#21699912) Homepage

    No kidding :-) I said in a public forum about 4 years ago that botnets are the first and only successful example of commercial utility computing [wikipedia.org], where a vendor tries to rent out time on large compute clusters.

    This works much better for botnet vendors than for Amazon EC2 or HP Utility Data Center, because the really valuable resource the botnets are renting is a routable IP address that hasn't been shut down yet. Computers are nearly free, but IP addresses that work are not.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      not just IP's that work, IPs that do not share an obvious relation to one another.
  • by JerryLove (1158461) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:53PM (#21700450)
    There's copyright protection on an product designed for illegal use? Isn't that like complaining that someone stole your cocaine?
  • Hopefully this means the malware industry will begin hemorrhaging money by hiring consultants.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:08PM (#21700674) Homepage

    Here's the actual paper from which came most of the material in the article: "The Commercial Malware Industry" [auckland.ac.nz], from the University of Auckland. More technical details.

    New threats of interest:

    • Some viruses now use error correcting codes so that attempts to patch them out will be repaired.
    • Windows Genuine Advantage blackmail trojan. Pops up message requesting payment of money or will disable your computer. (p.39)
    • Location-aware malware - used to find location for credit card number, so phony transactions can be generated from a physically nearby node. (p. 41)
    • "The most popular brands of antivirus software have an 80% miss rate" - AusCERT (p. 46)
    • Malware that detects and removes anti-virus and anti-rootkit tools is available. Once one of these is loaded, it runs before anti-virus software, even in Safe Mode. (p. 48)
    • "eGold Siphoner" detects valid sessions connecting to eGold.com and transfers funds by hijacking the authenticated session. (p. 52)
  • The design of stealth software like the "packer" is the same as copy-protection and "DRM" media encryption software, they both depend on obfuscation to hide the payload from an attacker while giving him both the key and the cyphertext. If you open-source it, you're telling the attacker (the antivirus researcher, or the deCSS author) where the key or the malware is hiding.

    I'm sure all the AV guys have already grabbed a copy of that packer and are totally on top of it.
  • ...wake up with a Trojan horse head in their bed.
  • "They opened the source code.."

    Another win for FOSS!
  • This might sound like rubbish at first.

    I'd rather you use the big old evil word, "evolution," rather than Darwinist or Darwinian.

    Reason: conservative moonbats attack science by making it personal. For example, Rush Limbaugh attacks global climate change by saying that Al Gore is everywhere and listening to Al Gore makes him want to put a gun in his mouth (I am not making this up, we live in La La Land.)

    Another reason is that the recent spate of articles catching on to calorie restriction as a method of life
  • So far, the one legislative action that has done anything significant to spam was the law barring credit cards from processing payments to online casinos. It's not that much of a leap to similarly ban any payments to v1gra pushers as well as the many 'canadian pharmacies'. After all, the product is either quackery or an illegal sale of a prescription drug, so the enterprise is illegal even without spamming. Even a fair percentage of the id10ts that fall for the spam will balk at sending cash through the ma

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