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Wednesday 18.07.2018 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze

Russian hackers put viruses on sale

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In Russia you can buy a trojan to spy on an ex for only $350. Or you can use some good, old-fashioned spamming—it’ll only cost you $10 for a million e-mails.

This is the current state of Russia’s underground market in cybercrime—a vibrant community of ne’er-do-wells offering every conceivable kind of method for compromising computer security, writes Wired.co.uk.

It’s been profiled in security firm Trend Micro‘s report, Russian Underground 101. It’s an insight into the workings of an entirely hidden economy, but also one that’s pretty scary. Some of these things are really, really cheap.

Rik Ferguson, Trend Micro‘s director of security research and communications, explains to Wired.co.uk that Russia’s cybercrime market is “very much a well-established market.”

Russian Underground 101 details the range of products on offer in this established market—Ferguson says that they can be for targeting anyone “from consumers to small businesses.” He points to ZeuS, a hugely popular trojan that’s been around for at least six years. In 2011, the source code for ZeuS was released into the wild—now, Ferguson says, “it’s become a criminal open source project.” Versions of ZeuS sell for between $200 and $500.

Ferguson points to so-called “ransomware” as an example of a more recent trend, where the computer is locked down and the hard drive encrypted. All the user sees on the screen is that tells them that their local law enforcement authority has detected something like child pornography or pirated software on their PC, and if they want to unlock it they’ll have to send money to a certain bank account. No payment, no getting your hard drive back.

Amazingly, if you pay that “fine,” then you will actually get your information back, says Ferguson. “But you’ve labeled yourself as an easy mark, and there’s no telling if they haven’t left behind a backdoor which will let them come back and try again,” he says.

The most recent trends in cybercrime, though, are very much focused on mobile—particularly Android, Ferguson explains: “We’ve seen so far 175,000 malicious threats for Android, and we expect that to be a quarter of a million by next year. Those threats come from malicious apps—if you want to stay safe, stick to official channels like Google Play, don’t just download from any site. Similarly, there aren’t any malicious iOS apps in the wild, on the App Store, but that only applies to iPhones aren’t jailbroken—downloading from other places puts your phone at risk.”

Ferguson cites the recent case of someone claiming to have bought the personal information of 1.1 million Facebook users for only $5 (£3.19) as further evidence of the growing problem of online information leaking into the hands of these cybercrime communities. Hackers and other cybercriminals make it their job to analyze security measures and find ways around them, because that information is where the value lies.

Here’s some of what you can buy on the Russian underground:

– Email spam: $10 per one million e-mails

– Expensive email spam (using a customer database): $50-500 per one million e-mails

– SMS spam: $3-150 per 100-100,000 messages

– Hacking a Facebook or Twitter account: $130

– Hacking a Gmail account: $162

– Hacking a corporate mailbox: $500)

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