Anyone who works or plays online loathes hackers and other thieves
who are out to steal information from you and about you. While some
of the theft is relatively harmless, some malware is out to cause
serious harm to computers and network systems.
Recently, DailyTech reported about the teen
botnet mastermind who was arrested for stealing information from
infected systems. A report
published this week gives us some insight into the underground
hacking economy on the Chinese Internet. Authors of the report
titled, “Studying Malicious Websites and the Underground Economy on
the Chinese Web”, include Jianwei Zhuge, Thorsten Holz, Chengyu
Song, Jinpeng Guo, Xinhui Han, and Wei Zou. Study authors hail from
Peking University Institute of Computer Science and Technology in
Beijing, china and University of Mannheim Laboratory for Dependable
Distributed Systems in Mannheim, Germany.
In all, the study claims that 1.49% of Chinese websites have
malicious content within them. The study measures 145,000 of the most
commonly visited Chinese websites and found that 2,149 of them
contained malicious content. Each time a visitor to the websites
containing malicious content visited that had certain software
vulnerabilities in their browser or applications, the machine was
compromised and some sort of malware was installed unbeknownst to the
computer user. This kind of attack is known as
drive-by-download-attack and the malware is typically a Trojan of
some sort that harvests information and sends it to the attacker.
The study describes what it calls actors from the underground
economy. The first actor is the Virus Writer, who has a certain
degree of technical background allowing them to program viruses and
zero day exploits. The virus writers are driven by profits says the
study. On the underground market virus writers typically earn around
the equivalent of $1.34 USD for the sell of Trojans they write.
A website master/cracker is the next player who attracts web
traffic to a site with free goods like music or applications. These
webmasters/crackers then sell the traffic to “envelope stealers”
for around 40 -60 RMB ($4-$8 USD) per 10,000 visits. The envelope
stealers attempt to harvest username and password combos for given
sites, like online games. These envelope stealers then sell the
harvested information to virtual asset stealers for tens of RMB, or
around $1.35 USD. These players also sell access to infected
computers for pennies to about $1.35 USD.
Virtual asset stealers buy the password, username combos from
envelope sellers and then gain access to accounts in popular online
games where they steal game assets like weapons and coins to sell for
real world profits. What the study calls one QQ coin sells for about
$0.70 USD. The final piece of the underground economy is the players
who buy the stolen game goods. The study says these players are most
often teenage males very into online games who spend their parent’s
quote: If you use the price of rice to calcuate to cost of feeding for the Chinese family, you can get a similar but cheaper cost of living using the price of wheat or corn for the lovely american dudes.
quote: Well a bowl of rice costs a quarter compared to a #3 at McDs being 5.85.
quote: Please, it might be hard for you, but try to use your brain a little and learn a little more about the world.