February 22, 2007

Threatwatch: $400 to 'own' your account

Some numbers from Guillaume Lovet on what it costs to gain control of an online bank account:

The most straightforward is to buy the 'finished product'. In this case we'll use the example of an online bank account. The product takes the form of information necessary to gain authorised control over a bank account with a six-figure balance. The cost to obtain this information is $400 (cybercriminals always deal in dollars).

Also, roles:

Coders - comparative veterans of the hacking community. With a few years' experience at the art and a list of established contacts, 'coders' produce ready-to-use tools (i.e. Trojans, mailers, custom bots) or services (such as making a binary code undetectable to AV engines) to the cybercrime labour force - the 'kids'. Coders can make a few hundred dollars for every criminal activity they engage in.

Kids - so-called because of their tender age: most are under 18. They buy, trade and resell the elementary building blocks of effective cyber-scams such as spam lists, php mailers, proxies, credit card numbers, hacked hosts, scam pages etc. 'Kids' will make less than $100 a month, largely because of the frequency of being 'ripped off' by one another.

Drops - the individuals who convert the 'virtual money' obtained in cybercrime into real cash. Usually located in countries with lax e-crime laws (Bolivia, Indonesia and Malaysia are currently very popular), they represent 'safe' addresses for goods purchased with stolen financial details to be sent, or else 'safe' legitimate bank accounts for money to be transferred into illegally, and paid out of legitimately.

Mobs - professionally operating criminal organisations combining or utilising all of the functions covered by the above. Organised crime makes particularly good use of safe 'drops', as well as recruiting accomplished 'coders' onto their payrolls.

And now for the big picture:

All of the following phishing tools can be acquired very cheaply: a scam letter and scam page in your chosen language, a fresh spam list, a selection of php mailers to spam-out 100,000 mails for six hours, a hacked website for hosting the scam page for a few days, and finally a stolen but valid credit card with which to register a domain name. With all this taken care of, the total costs for sending out 100,000 phishing emails can be as little as $60. This kind of 'phishing trip' will uncover at least 20 bank accounts of varying cash balances, giving a 'market value' of $200 - $2,000 in e-gold if the details were simply sold to another cybercriminal. The worst-case scenario is a 300% return on the investment, but it could be ten times that.

Better returns can be accomplished by using 'drops' to cash the money. The risks are high, though: drops may take as much as 50% of the value of the account as commission, and instances of 'ripping off' or 'grassing up' to the police are not uncommon. Cautious phishers often separate themselves from the physical cashing of their spoils via a series of 'drops' that do not know one another. However, even taking into account the 50% commission, and a 50% 'rip-off' rate, if we assume a single stolen balance of $10,000 - $100,000, then the phisher is still looking at a return of between 40 and 400 times the meagre outlay of his/her phishing trip.

Good foundation for the risk analysis.

Posted by iang at February 22, 2007 12:56 PM | TrackBack

so maybe you will enjoy this one ... slightly different approach ... but there have been a number of recent articles about many attacks are becoming quite a bit more focused

Security Reference Guide > How to Steal 80,000 Identities in One Day

does overlap with

How to breach a company: Spies, Lies and KPMG

Posted by: Lynn Wheeler at February 25, 2007 04:26 PM
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