The list of monetization tactics a cybercriminal can take advantage of, once they manage to hijack a huge portion of Web traffic, is virtually limitless and is entirely based on his experience within the cybercrime ecosystem.
In this post, I’ll profile two cybercrime-friendly iFrame traffic exchanges, with the second ‘vertically integrating’ by also offering spamming services, as well as services violating YouTube’s ToS (Terms of Service) such as likes, comments, views, favorites and subscribers on demand, with an emphasis on the most common ways through which a potential cybercriminal can abuse any such traffic exchange network.
Among the most common misconceptions about the way a novice cybercriminal would approach his potential victims has to do with the practice of having him looking for a ‘seed’ population to infect, so that he can then use the initially infected users as platform to scale his campaign. In reality though, that used to be the case for cybercriminals, years ago, when managed cybercrime-as-a-service types of underground market propositions were just beginning to materialize.
In 2013, the only thing a novice cybercriminal wanting to gain access to thousands of PCs located in a specific country has to do is to make a modest investment in the (managed) process of obtaining it. Let’s take a peek at one of the most recently launched such services.
A currently ongoing malicious spam campaign is attempting to trick users into thinking that they’ve successfully received a legitimate ‘Gift Card’ worth $200. What’s particularly interesting about this campaign is that the cybercriminal(s) behind it are mixing the infection vectors by relying on both a malicious attachment and a link to the same malware found in the malicious emails. Users can become infected by either executing the attachment or by clicking on the client-side exploits serving link found in the emails.
British users, watch what you execute on your PCs!
An ongoing malicious spam campaign is impersonating U.K’s O2 mobile carrier, in an attempt to trick its customers into executing a fake ‘MMS message” attachment found in the emails. Once socially engineered users do so, their PCs automatically join the botnet operated by the cybercriminal/gang of cybercriminals whose activities we continue to monitor.
A currently ongoing malicious spam campaigns is attempting to entice BofA customers into clicking on the client-side exploit serving URLs found in legitimate looking ‘Statement of Expenses’ themed emails. Once users with outdated third-party applications and browser plugins click on the link, an infection is installed that automatically converts their PC’s into zombies under the control of the botnet operated by the cybercriminal/gang of cybercriminals behind the campaign.
We’ve just intercepted a currently circulating malicious spam campaign that’s attempting to trick iPhone owners into thinking that they’ve received a ‘picture snapshot message’. Once users execute the malicious attachment, their PCs automatically join the botnet operated by the cybercriminal/gang of cybercriminals, whose activities we’ve been closely monitoring over the last couple of months.
Malware-infected hosts with clean IP reputation have always been a desirable underground market item. On the majority of occasions, they will either be abused as distribution/infection vector, used as cash cows, or as ‘stepping stones’, risk-forwarding the responsibility, and distorting the attribution process, as well as adding an additional OPSEC (Operational Security) layer to the campaign of the malicious attacker.
A newly launched ‘malware-infected hosts as stepping stones’ service, is offering access to Socks5-enabled malware hosts, located primarily in the United States, allowing virtually anyone to route their fraudulent/malicious traffic through these hosts.