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Hackers Offer Subscription, Support for Malware 105

Posted by Zonk
from the ingenuity-leads-to-swelled-pockets dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "Organised gangs are taking a page out of security vendors' books and setting up their own websites that offer support and subscriptions for malware and spyware. From the article: 'For subscriptions starting as low as $20 per month, enterprises can sell fully managed exploit engines that spyware distributors and spammers can use to infiltrate systems worldwide, said Gunter Ollmann, director of security strategies at IBM's ISS X-Force team. Many exploit providers simply wait for Microsoft's monthly patches, which they then reverse engineer to develop new exploit code against the disclosed vulnerabilities, Ollmann said. "Then all you've got to do is just subscribe to them on a monthly basis.'"
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Hackers Offer Subscription, Support for Malware

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  • by robinsonne (952701) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:36PM (#18622517)
    When I first read the title, I thought it meant that hackers were now selling "protection" from malware in much the same way organized gangs have sold "protection" in the past. Perhaps a better title would be "Hackers organize, sell exploits as business"
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:55PM (#18622755) Homepage Journal
      That's kind of what I thought. Like "d00d! 1m g0nna h4x0r ur g1bs0n 1f j00 d0nt s1gn up 4 my '5upp0rt 5u85cr1p710n!" Or maybe "I pwn3d j00! n0\/\/ p4y up j00r 5upp0r7 5u8scr1pt1on 1f u w4nt j00r g1bs0n b4ck!"
    • As an employee of a company that makes AV/anti-spyware software, I get to see trends most people are never aware of. In fact, malware companies ARE selling "protection" in the form of various pieces of software which end up on you Windows based PC via drive by, some My_Spays (intentional misspell) page, or in many cases, trying to download copyrighted music or cracked software via P2P. There is a whole page/site [spywarewarrior.com] dedicated to listing these rogue programs. So, next time you get that security warning [sunbelt-software.com] fro
      • by UniCeta (158579)
        Yeah, there are many botnets that are used for purposes of extortion. There was even an article in wired last year about the guy who set up that million dollar page that was just ads; A Blackhat group ordered him to pay 5 grand and when he didnt, his site got hit with a 23000 node dDOS attack.
        • It's very clear they have gotten ultra-organized on the dark side. Until Antivirus and Antispyware companies start agreeing to share some serious research, it's likely we will continue to lose this war. Otherwise it's going to take a serious re-examination of our ideas on what we think is OK. Some like to call themselves ethical hackers. To those people, I say "Talk to your friends", discourage hacking that hurts everyday people. I am not condoning thievery or illegal security circumvention, but at least li
    • by lpq (583377)
      So you are saying you don't know the difference between "for" and "against"?

      No wonder people have problems getting along with, and understanding others -- they can't even tell the difference between "for" and "against"....

      Sigh...

      -l
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:37PM (#18622529)
    Couldn't they make more money by offering a 'Patch Wednesday' kind of service which updated Microsoft products and protected against the next round of vulnerabilities? Seeing as no one else is able to do this there's a very obvious gap in the market here for someone who knows a bit about exploiting MS products!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qwijibo (101731)
      They can make even more money offerring several consecutive levels of patches and exploits. There will always be someone willing to pay for the level of protection or exploit beyond what's commonly available for the low monthly maintenance fee.
      • Which of course would raise the question: What is the most expensive option: A security package which protects against all their exploits, or an exploit which works for all their security packages?
        • by qwijibo (101731)
          That depends on which set of clients have the most money. If the net income from the protection racket is higher, that's the top. If the exploits are more profitable, those are the top. The beauty of this business plan is that there's always room to up the ante if the most profitable client group changes.
    • Then you'd need another team of h4x0r2 to offer a "Patch Thursday" :]
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:37PM (#18622541) Homepage Journal
    ...then kill them.
    • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@gm a i l . c om> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:55PM (#18622749) Homepage Journal
      To paraphrase Marv: "I love malware writers. No matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mpapet (761907)
      This will be the strategy that any company with a couple of lawyers of the world will pursue.

      They've already legislated away some access to researching vulnerabilities with the DMCA.

      Announcing security hole disclosure risks litigation in the U.S.

      I'm most concerned about the American legislation that Microsoft will dream up to fight shops like this which will end up harming us all by limiting innovation.
      • by mcpkaaos (449561)
        I'm most concerned about the American legislation that Microsoft will dream up to fight shops like this which will end up harming us all by limiting innovation.

        Microsoft is probably too busy dreaming up Vista sales to be bothered with this issue.
      • by iminplaya (723125)
        ...harming us all by limiting innovation.

        Three guesses as to what single thing gives them that kind of power. It's not the money, though that is a "lubricant", so to speak.
  • If Colombian cartels run public support of whole villages, why not to go a similar way for sleazy hackers?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:42PM (#18622581)
    Erm, if you're daft enough to sign up and give them your credit card details directly, doesn't that mean they no longer need bother writing the malware?
    • by Afecks (899057)
      Funny, but as a former seller of rootkits and RATs it's usually done with e-gold, western union or other non-reversible methods of payment. I'm sure no self-respecting malware author would tolerate chargebacks, especially with the caliber of people you are dealing with on a day to day basis.
      • Yeah...
        I prefer cash and bearer bonds.
        my merchandise is a little different though . . . YMMV but we've found that at times western union , while not reversible, is interceptable and/or traceable.
        • by Afecks (899057)
          Ahh well I guess that depends on what you're selling. I never broke any laws so I wasn't concerned over that. My name's been on "the list" for years...
    • by The Raven (30575)
      What, you think anyone uses their OWN credit card for this? Why do you think they're using exploits... they just use a stolen CC to signup.

      I suspect the service doesn't do much repeat billing... :-)
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:44PM (#18622617) Homepage Journal
    When I saw the summary, I was half-certain it had to be a delayed April 1 submission. Then I looked at the article. And thought about it.

    It actually fits a pattern we've seen with viruses, trojans, spyware, other malware, cracking, even spam. They've gone from small shops, often one programmer trying to make a name for himself, to full-on organized crime using businesslike structures and tactics.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:54PM (#18622735)
      Yet they still won't provide support for *nix in any way shape or form.

      I want malware, and viruses for my OSX box. it just isn't fair that the viruses and malware only works on windows. I have animated cursors too. Heck right my ssh port is open go ahead and try to crack it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Spudtrooper (1073512)
        I want full Wine support for the latest viruses and malware, dammit!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Here lemme try *tap* *tap* *tap* There? See? Wine seems to support denial-of-service exploits just fine...oh, wait, that looks like a bug ...

      • . Heck right my ssh port is open go ahead and try to crack it.

        Yeah? Which version of OpenSSH [cert.org]? Got the latest security patches from Apple? What's your IP address?

        Oh, yeah, do you wanna buy some root exploits for your Mac?

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by bmo (77928)
          "Yeah? Which version of OpenSSH? Got the latest security patches from Apple? What's your IP address?"

          First off, only the clued even know that ssh exists and how to turn it on. Joe and Josephine user don't know nor care what it is. It's not turned on by default. If one is offering SSH as a service, one should be clued into where to get updates, and recompiling one's own instead of waiting for Apple. Funny how Apple includes a full dev kit with OS/X and Microsoft doesn't for Windows. http://developer.appl [apple.com]
      • by Lijemo (740145)

        Yet they still won't provide support for *nix in any way shape or form. I want malware, and viruses for my OSX box. it just isn't fair that the viruses and malware only works on windows. I have animated cursors too. Heck right my ssh port is open go ahead and try to crack it.

        This post is a virus that operates on the honor system. Please post your root password and credit card details as a response to this post, wipe your hard-drive, and then spam this message to everyone you know via e-mail and forum/bl

        • by peragrin (659227)
          IP 196.168.1.105
          username luser
          password luser

          credit card 5555 0000 1111 2222
          expired 03/07

          and I just typed rm -rf ~ will that work?

          This post is a virus that operates on the honor system. Please post your root password and credit card details as a response to this post, wipe your hard-drive, and then spam this message to everyone you know via e-mail and forum/blog postings. Thank you.

          I couldn't help myself :)
    • Nope, very very real. Interestingly, they do a better job than the big name vendors out there. I see a case study here for the Symantecs of the world. I guess I should start looking for Crimes-R-Us booth at the next sec expo. I sure hope they've learned about booth babes...
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:47PM (#18622661) Journal
    How long before we see a defection and find out that N.Korea or some other evil empire's government is sponsoring this type of activity. All that malware out there isn't just annoying you with spam, a lot of it is trying industrial espionage.
    • by rs232 (849320)
      'How long before we see a defection and find out that N.Korea or some other evil empire's government'

      What makes you think they don't have their own home grown hackers - like China [slashdot.org] for instance.
    • by krbvroc1 (725200)
      And just like Iraq, we will find that it was the 'West' who sold them the technology to do this.
    • How long before we see a defection and find out that N.Korea or some other evil empire's government is sponsoring this type of activity.


      I dunno. Seems more likely that there'd be a scandal and we'd find out that AV vendors were sponsoring this type of activity. The worse the problem is, the more people will pay for protection, after all.
  • $20?!?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:54PM (#18622729)
    $20? What a rip off. I get the latest malware and spyware for free every day courtesy of my coworkers.
  • How long? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How long will these hackers be trusted by their colleagues? Eventually; the groups selling the subscription will be booted from the underground / aka no longer be trusted. Keep in mind: how do you know what they are selling is going to be accurate?

    Just my .02 cents worth.
    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Keep in mind: how do you know what they are selling is going to be accurate?
      You don't, unless they open source it. For those of you who are new, malware has been open sourced before. Remember SATAN, the Unix network penetrator posted to Usenet 20 years ago?

      Killing the messenger isn't going to change the fact that major software companies are still releasing software with basic security flaws in it. Somebody, somewhere is going to take advantage of that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Eventually; the groups selling the subscription will be booted from the underground / aka no longer be trusted.


      Yes, and we all know how organized, monolithic, and connected "the underground" is.

      *rolls eyes*
  • Next Step (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:02PM (#18622857) Homepage Journal
    The next step is obviously to protect their IP, so look for patents such as:

    "a method of injecting code into a web-browser to steal credit card details.... on the internet"
    "a method of using many remote controlled computer's, without the owners express consent* to send unwanted advertising material, to many, many people... on the internet"

    After that expect to see Exploit Genuine Advantage programs to ensure that the stolen data you are using is from genuinely advantageous exploits, and not from some half baked knock off malware or virus, duplicated by a disreputable individual.

    Obviously the last step will be the mergers, (after all the above should ensure a profitable market is created and grows). Symantec will merge with EvilCode PLC, to produce Evil-Symantec, McAfee will merge with McNasty, to produce McNastfee. These new entities will be able to leverage both the illegal exploit market and provide protection services simultaneously, probably all in one product... , Finally Microsoft will change its OS so that it no longer "works" with all these wondrous exploits and... hell will freeze over :)
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:29PM (#18623243) Journal
      Evil-Symantec ? That deserves a -1 Redundant.
    • The final step in this process is clearly that Microsoft will buy one of the tiny little malware vendors, or maybe two of them, and work for a couple years to integrate the service directly into the next version of Windows, taking the revenue stream from McNastafee and Evil-Symantec.
    • I have seen malware change the DNS settings on Windows machines to an IP in Kharkiv (sp?) Ukraine, then hide an executable in Winlogon\Notify, all before it starts replicating restore points. They have gotten really good at making it not only hard to get rid of, but route the victims internet traffic through their own servers. Talk about making the spying easy.
    • by Alt_230 (1001136)
      EXPLOIT GENUINE ADVANTAGE

      Does it matter if your malware is genuine? Yes, if you want the confidence of knowing that your malware is legitimate and fully supported.
      And only genuine exploit customers can receive product downloads, malware updates and special offers.

      Benefits of Genuine Exploit:
      Capabilities You Expect - Your system will deliver the features, options, and performance you need to maximize our productivity and enjoyment.
      Confidence and Peace of Mind - Your malware is authentic, properl

  • by symbolset (646467) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:07PM (#18622897) Journal

    erm, ok, maybe not. Anybody whose job it is to track such things who thinks this is news, well, they're not doing their homework.

    The exploit ecosystem has evolved an organism that appears to be self-aware.

    If only there were an environment that was safe from such evil organisms, where they could not thrive...

    • It's called meatspace. Of course, if the singularity actually happens, be prepared for v1@g4@ hawking bots in real life, too.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:10PM (#18622939) Homepage

    The site they're writing about [stat482.com], found by searching with Google for phrases in the article, isn't quite what the article says it is.

    It's really yet another slimy "affiliate" program. "We give our code to your and you need to setup it to your websites. We pay for installs and for trusted webmasters for traffic if they want that." They're not selling malware with support. They're buying traffic to install their malware via drive-by installs. That's not exactly new. CometCursor, BonzaiBuddy, and Zango come to mind.

    From the original article, someone else may be selling "fully managed exploit engines", but it's not these guys.

  • I know I will likely be flamed for this, but I think its great that the hackers have offered this type of service. This will force microsoft to come up with real security instead of some pop up windows that try and give some simalance of being secure. I hate adware as much as the next guy but if this is allowed to continue, Microsoft might be forced to re-think the base of their OS. Of course this could all be the next small step in Apples bid for world domination! Apple-hired mercenaries working under the
    • I strongly disagree. Microsoft still owns the market irrelevant of their long history of lax security - this won't make any difference. I highly doubt any notable amount of people will hear about this and go "oh well I guess now its time for me to switch to something more secure." It took MS six years to "re-think" their security, and the result was, as you put it, "some pop up windows that try and give some simbalance [sic] of being secure." Something far more drastic than this is necessary to get MS t
  • Someone should sell a monthly malware research subscription that identifies attack sources for an enterprise or ISP for a month and submits case files to the appropriate government to put the offenders in jail. In countries with no functional government, hire privateers instead.
  • Isn't this similar to L0pht Heavy Industries' business model, just without the scum and villainy that's associated with malware?
  • I downloaded some malware from the internet that was offered for free, and now they want to charge me for maintaining it?

    That's it for me. From now on I'm using only open-source malware.

    This is outrageous! It's extortion, that's what it is! It's downright criminal... Oh!

  • I know this seems very paranoid, but I thought it was interesting to see the advertising effort for malware protection on the same page as the article. It got me thinking about the size of the industry to prevent spyware as opposed to the size of the hacker community. The amount of money that has been made protecting from hackers is in the billions. Just an observation that opens up all kinds of conspiracy theories.
  • Wow, yeah I find this news quite amazing. When I think of a hacker a nerdy 20 something year old comes to mind typing away on a computer with a box of pizza and 2 liter of mountain dew at hand. This is something different though. By actually selling these illegal products to anyone who can afford them, these hackers are gaining respect as well as funding, which is crucial to the advancement of their nefarious deeds. It sounds like the attacks are all browser based, coming through yet to be patched versions
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @06:44PM (#18628311) Homepage
    Wow, wouldn't it be wonderful if Microsoft finally got it and made Windows really secure?

    No, it wouldn't It wouldn't sell, nobody would use it and it would be a complete flop.

    Windows is designed to be usable by people without one little bit of computer knowledge. It therefore does things "for you" in the background that can be good and helpful. If they are subverted, they are bad and insecure. Take all of this away and leave just the command line and Windows would be much more secure, but it would be unusable by most people.

    If it is programmable and the programming can be added to or modified in the field, it needs controls on who can modify that programming. If the inexperienced user can, it isn't secure. Period. When users run programs to install games they purchased they are using the same resources as when the click on an email attachment to install some bit of malware. They have no way of knowing the difference and it would seem no amount of education is going to fix that problem.

    What most people need is a locked-down appliance that cannot be modified in the field without extraordinary effort. And certainly cannot be modified over the Internet. This could be user friendly and secure, but you wouldn't install software on it, ever.

    Windows is trying to be user friendly and general-purpose. This has no choice but to fail to be very secure. The user cannot tell the difference between a program that is from Microsoft that is something they want and a program from microSoft that isn't something they want at all. Or from MircoSoft. Or really, anyone else at all. Sure, you can try to give them a chance to tell the difference - and Vista does try - but it isn't going to work. People gave up reading messages from computers and just click OK beginning in 1979 with CP/M and they aren't about to change now.

    I contend that there is no material difference between the security present on a Macintosh or Linux and Windows in the hands of a user that doesn't understand how the system works. If they get an email that says to run some program, they are going to run it if they want what the email says they are going to get. If this requires using sudo to get root authority, they will do so if they have the ability to do it.

    So how do you have security in that environment? You don't. You can't ever be secure against the naive user in charge of their own computer.
  • That's why we can't have nice things.

    Any y'all who were on Usenet back in the day know exactly what I mean.
  • 20$ ??? When I can get a delayed version for free by reading the descriptions of this website [slashdot.org]
  • If you use phishtank.com to verify phishes others submitted, you see clear patterns such as page filename, the exploit used and so on. There must be some "phishing kits" in use. If you see c.html in 6 different hacked servers in complete different locations, there is nothing but a software kit there.

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