Malware can make you US$10 800 per day

August 2009 Cyber Security

If you thought IT security was not worth the hassle, think again, if you are not too concerned about ethical business practices, there is good money in dispensing malware.

Finjan, a provider of secure Web gateway products and unified Web security solutions for the enterprise market, has announced that its Malicious Code Research Centre (MCRC) managed to gain entry to and research a rogueware affiliate network, where members can make up to US$10 800 per day.

In the Cybercrime Intelligence Report for 2009, Finjan states, “Cybercriminals’ main drive is to make as much profit as possible. They are making money from every infected PC by stealing and trading data or by selling rogue software (often disguised as antivirus software). They are therefore constantly focusing on increasing their distribution reach. Finjan has reported and described many cases where legitimate websites were compromised and used for infecting their visitors with unwanted or malicious software.”

The report shows how cybercriminals used SEO to optimise the distribution of their rogueware. Typos and misspelled keywords (such as 'obbama' and 'liscense') as well as trendy keywords taken from the Google Trends system were abused to show compromised websites as top search results. Subsequently, the traffic volume to the compromised websites increased significantly luring masses of potential buyers to the rogueware offering.

The result of this is that users searching on a common search engine would find the top results from sites that were compromised. When clicking on a link, a small script on the page redirects the user to the rogueware page where anything goes. A common scam once users are on this rogue page is to try and sell the user antivirus software.

Cybercriminals are aware that most people know about virus threats. Using this, when a user hits an infected page they are faced with a simulated virus attack and the malware sends a fake notification telling them their machine is infected. The catch is the site also offers to sell them antivirus software to supposedly remove the infection.

“In principal, this type of attack is similar to a phishing attack, in that a user gets a similar type of message when visiting areas on the darkside of the Web, panics and pays the $50 to avoid becoming entangled in an embarrassing situation,” explains Grayford Holton of Holton and Associates, local BitDefender distributor. “Alternatively, the message points out that the user is now infected with an untold number of viruses and offers a solution to remove the malware. The guilt syndrome takes over and the user not only pays for the rogue software, but provides access to his/her address books and private data.”

Finjan found that “one of the most popular distribution models for this kind of sales is the use of affiliate networks. Their members are paid high commissions.” The research report shows:

* Installation rate of the rogue software is 7%–12%.

* 1,79% of the victims paid $50 for it.

* 58%–90% of the sales price flows back to the affiliate, which accumulates to 9,6 cents (in US currency) per redirected request.

During 16 consecutive days in which the site was monitored, 1,8 million unique users were redirected to the rogue anti-virus software and members of the affiliate network were rewarded for each successful redirection, totalling US$172 800 or US$10 800 per day.

“Effective protection is the keyword,” adds Holton. “A firewall is essential to prevent rogue software suddenly appearing on your computer without you knowing. Proactive virus protection is key in blocking new, previously unknown viruses, before they can infect your computer.

“Lastly, having a local technical service team that users can contact for quality answers to their problems counts for a lot. It is amazing how much South African users still enjoy being able to call a local number and have a reassuring voice helping them.”

The report is at

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Governing cybersecurity from the top as a strategic business enabler
Cyber Security
C-Suite executives still do not take cybersecurity seriously enough, while boards are not nearly as engaged in cybersecurity as they are in other areas of oversight.

It is time to take a quantum leap in IoT cybersecurity
Drive Control Corporation Cyber Security
IoT has become integrated everywhere, including enterprises. While it offers many benefits, such as increased productivity and the rollout of mission critical applications, it can also lead to (enterprise) cyber-attack vulnerabilities.

What to do in the face of growing ransomware attacks
Technews Publishing Cyber Security Security Services & Risk Management
Ransomware attacks are proliferating, with attackers becoming more sophisticated and aggressive, and often hitting the same victims more than once, in more than one way.

Can we reduce cyberattacks in 2023?
Cyber Security
Zero-trust cybersecurity strategy with simplicity and risk reduction at the heart is mandatory to reduce exponential cyberattacks in 2023, says GlobalData.

Key success factors that boost security resilience
Cyber Security
Adoption of zero trust, secure access service edge and extended detection and response technologies, all resulted in significant increases in resilient outcomes, as are executive support and cultivating a security culture.

Enterprise threats in 2023
News Cyber Security
Large businesses and government structures should prepare for cybercriminals using media to blackmail organisations, reporting alleged data leaks, and purchasing initial access to previously compromised companies on the darknet.

CA Southern Africa unmasks container security
Technews Publishing IT infrastructure Cyber Security
Adoption of software containers has risen dramatically as more organisations realise the benefits of this virtualised technology.

Shifts in threat landscape to industrial control systems
Cyber Security
Kaspersky’s ICS CERT researchers’ predictions include increased attack surface due to digitisation, activities of volunteer and cybercriminal insiders, ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure as well as the technical, economic and geopolitical effects, and the rise of potential vulnerabilities being exploited by attackers.

Advanced persistent cybercrime
Cyber Security
FortiGuard Labs predicts the convergence of advanced persistent threat methods with cybercrime. Advanced persistent cybercrime enables new wave of destructive attacks at scale, fuelled by Cybercrime-as-a-Service.

Digital razor wire: sharpening endpoint protection
Cyber Security
Crypto-mining, hacking, vulnerabilities, and threats – protecting the organisation’s endpoints has never been more important than it is today, says Reggie Nkabinde, consultant: modern platform-security at Altron Karabina.