Computer Crime Research Center


Trend Micro Sees Growth of Underground Cyber Crime Economy

Date: February 26, 2008
By: Brooke Radich

Sydney, AUST., February 26, 2008 Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in Internet content security, recently published its 2007 Threat Report and 2008 Forecast.

According to research from Trend Micro's TrendLabsSM, hackers are intensifying their attacks on legitimate Web sites. It debunks the adage to "not visit questionable sites" just because a user visits a gambling or adult-content site doesn't necessarily mean Web threats are lurking in the shadows; the site with the latest sports news or links in a search engine result, however, could potentially infect visitors with malware.

An underground malware industry has carved itself a thriving market by exploiting the trust and confidence of Web users. The Russian Business Network, for example, was notorious all year for hosting illegal businesses including child pornography, phishing and malware distribution sites. This underground industry excludes no one. In 2007, Apple had to contend with the ZLOB gang, proving that even alternative operating systems are not safe havens for the online user. The Italian Gromozon, a malware disguised in the form of a rogue anti-spyware security application, also made its mark in 2007.

This past year, the NUWAR (Storm) botnet expanded in scope when Trend Micro researchers found proof that the Storm botnet is renting its services to host fly-by-night online pharmacies, dabble in stock pump-and-dump scams, and even portions of its backend botnet infrastructure. During 2007, the most popular communication protocol among botnet owners was still Internet Relay Chat possibly because software to create IRC bots is widely available and easily implemented and at the same time movement to encrypted P2P is being used and tested in the field.

Security threats are no longer limited to PCs. Mobile devices, as they become more sophisticated and powerful, are at risk for the same types of threats as PCs (viruses, spam, Trojans, malware, etc.) Gadgets with wireless capabilities such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as storage capability have become major sources of data leaks, as well as carriers of infections through security perimeters.
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