Prices fall, services rise in Malware-as-a-Service market

Any non-professional can buy or rent all the tools needed to build the malware, distribute it and then siphon credit card and banking data and other personal informatio

Prices are falling and the number of services is increasing as developers in the online underground compete fiercely for criminals looking to purchase botnets and other tools to mount cyberattacks.

The trends in the so-called Malware-as-a-Service market (MaaS) reflect a maturing business in which any non-professional can buy or rent all the tools needed to build the malware, distribute it and then siphon credit card and banking data and other personal information from compromised PCs. Developers even offer software consoles that provide a full view of a botnet and all its nodes.

"You don't have to be part of a hacking collective to be an effective hacker and someone who is effective at monetizing his efforts in this alluring way," said Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director for Webroot. "It is rather easy and people are making a lot of money, so we expect [tools] to become more available and less expensive."

Because of competition among suppliers, prices have been falling rapidly. Since January, Webroot has seen prices starting for a U.S. botnet of 1,000 computers fall from $200 to $120. Today, a person can buy a 10,000-computer botnet for $1,000.

[Also see: Custom design growing in malware market]

Botnets located in the U.S. fetch the highest prices because the victims tend to have more money in PayPal and bank accounts, as well as credit cards with higher maximum spending limits. By comparison, a 1,000-host botnet in the European Union costs $50, while the same number in Germany, Canada or the U.K. cost $80, according to Webroot.

With the demand for services rising, suppliers are expanding their portfolios. A more recent service is converting malware-infected computers into anonymization proxies that cybercriminals can use to cover their Web activities.

One newly launched service advertised as ProxyBuy provides access to thousands of hosts that have been converted to SOCKS Servers. SOCKS, which stands for SOCKet Secure, is an Internet protocol that routes network packets through a proxy server.

Prices vary depending on the number of servers. For example, a criminal can buy 1,400-1,500 SOCKS servers for $30. A popular tactic of cybercriminals is to chain numerous servers together to cover their tracks.

Malware-as-a-service operations have been around since the early 2000s, but they have really started taken off since 2006. In general, the services are being used for spamming, launching denial-of-service attacks, harvesting emails and stealing credentials for banking accounts and other Web services.

Read more about malware/cybercrime in CSOonline's Malware/Cybercrime section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags WebrootapplicationsData Protection | Malwarelegalsoftwaredata protectioncybercrimemalware-as-a-service

More about CustomPayPalWebroot

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place