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Malware News 2010

12-12-10 – Major Ad Networks Found Serving Malicious Ads – threatpost –

9-29-10 to 10-2-10 Massive Crime Ring Taken Down
FBI reports issuing arrest warrants for 90 in the U.S., 19 in the U.K. and 5 in the Ukraine. This ring stole at least $70 million from individuals, from small businesses, local governments, school districts, churches and non-profits.

10-01-10 Security Firm Panda Reports Receiving Average of 55,000 New Malware…. Daily!

9-23-10 Botnet Operators Shift from China to Russia
A recent government crackdown in China has forced many malware botnet operators to flee to Russia. M86 Security says 5,000 new spam domains have been discovered in Russia.

9-17-10 Germany Opens Anti-Botnet Advice Center,,6014576,00.html

9-14-10 Criminals Use Hacked E-mail to Steal, Then Sell House
A sophisticated network of criminals hacked into an e-mail account, acquired personal documents, and proceeded to sell the house of an Australian man that had been overseas for more than a year.

9-8-10 When Business Brains Turn to Crime
Cyber criminals are far better organized and more sophisticated than most legitimate e-commerce operations. Writer Stuart Sumner says “Various forums exist for hackers to share ideas and sell their products and services. But membership of these forums is by invitation only – first the would-be cyber criminal must become trusted…” “[They] won’t do business with just anybody.” These hackers also have first rate online shopping centers. “It’s a thriving market and you need the right credentials to get in.”

8-21-10 The Power of Graphics Processing May threaten the World’s Password Security System
Georgia Tech researchers found that a low cost graphics processing unit can lend super-computer power to an ordinary desktop. This new capability allows Internet criminals to quickly break passwords by ‘brute force’ methods. Brute force means simply trying every known combination of password, beginning with the most common. These experts say passwords less than 12 characters, especially if they don’t use numbers and special characters, are easy to crack.

8-12-10 FBI Busts $100 Million Scareware Ring
The FBI issued indictments against 3 men who they say created at least 7 fictitious advertising agencies that placed ads on legitimate websites selling worthless antivirus protection. The fake products had names like “Antivirus 2008,” “DriveCleaner,” and “ErrorSafe.” Months later others in the security industry say that in spite of the size of this bust, the scareware business remains as large as ever. In other words, there was little effect.

8-12-10 Are there 6.8 million – or 24 million – infected PCs on the Internet?
Symantec estimates that there are 6.8 million infected computers on the Internet. Gunter Ollmann, vice president of research at security firm Damballa disagrees, saying 12% to 15% of the 1.6 billion computers on the Internet are infected. That would total 19.2 million to 24 million. “Getting hold of new botnets, or building a new botnet from scratch has never been easier,” says Ollmann. “Specialist providers for botnet building, bot agent design and bot delivery are plentiful and it has already become largely a commoditized service industry.”

7-11-10 Spammers Using Shortened Links
According to the security company Symantec, the percentage of spam e-mail containing shortened links has doubled from 2009. Their research indicates that shortened hyperlinks hit a one day peak of 18% of all spam e-mail sent, or 23.4 billion e-mail. The reason is that the shortened links contain reputable and legitimate domains which makes it harder for traditional anti-spam filters to identify the messages as spam. See the URL Decoders ( article for more information on shortened links and tools that can help you avoid both malware and phishing websites.

6-21-10 New Botnet Manipulates Belgian Stock Prices
A Belgian federal investigation into an electronic bank account heist reveals a highly-targeted botnet designed to infiltrate software trading platforms and manipulate stock prices.

6-18-10 Apple Malware a Growing Threat
The world is changing…again. While Mac computers are still relatively rare (though not as rare as they once were), the iPhone and iPad have changed the game, and Apple — worth more on the market than Microsoft now — is a major player in the computer industry once again. And so the hackers have come out to play.”

6-16-10 Eastern European Banks Under Attack
Eastern European criminal gangs are using a sophisticated, next-generation exploitation kit to siphon funds out of electronic bank accounts and then assault the financial institutions with more data than they can handle.

6-11-10 China Cracks Down on Malware
China recently began implementing a new domain registration policy. According to security firm Kaspersky the “cn” top-level domain for China went from hosting 33% of all malware sites in the 4th quarter of 2009 to only 13% in the 1st quarter of 2010. Russia (.ru) began implementing a similar policy in April and could trigger another mass relocation of malware sites.

6-8-10 The Business Side of Botnets
An excellent article by looks at botnets from a business perspective. “…the successful criminal operators harvest so much information they often struggle to sift out the really valuable nuggets” Very interesting article.

6-7-10 Multimillion Dollar Scareware Bust Doesn’t Slow the Problem
In 2008 U.S. regulators took down Innovative Marketing, one of the largest distributors of Scareware. Court records show the company duped customers out of more than $163 million between 2004-2008. Despite the takedown Microsoft’s free Malicious Software Removal Tool reports cleaning scareware off 7.8 million PCs in the second half of 2009, up from 5.3 million computers in the first six months of last year.

6-4-10 Smartphone Malware Doubles in Less than 6 Months
A report by mobile security firm Lookout points to an alarming trend, with a doubling in malware and spyware found on their clients’ smartphones from December 2009 to May 2010.

6-3-10The Dark Side of Phone Apps
This Wall Street Journal article says “As more companies, governments and consumers use wireless gadgets to conduct commerce and share private information, computer bad guys are beginning to target them, according to government officials and security researchers.”

5-13-10 – Imperva Uncovers Massive Botnet
Security researchers have discovered a new type of botnet that uses web servers instead of individual users’ machines to launch its attacks. The botnet, capable of launching a sophisticated Denial of Service (DoS) attack, was discovered by security company Imperva. The botnet is believed to comprise some 300 web servers around the globe.

5-13-10 – German WiFi owners are now liable for what third party users download while connected to their network
Internet users in Germany can now be fined up to €100 ($127 US) if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected WLAN connection to illegally download music or other files. According to the Associated Press, Germany’s top criminal court has said that internet users need to secure their private wireless connections by password to prevent unauthorized people from using their web access to illegally download data.

5-5-10 – Wi-Fi key-cracking kits sold in China mean free Internet
Dodgy salesmen in China are making money from long-known weaknesses in a Wi-Fi encryption standard, by selling network key-cracking kits for the average user. Wi-Fi USB adapters bundled with a Linux operating system, key-breaking software and a detailed instruction book are being sold online and at China’s bustling electronics bazaars. The kits, pitched as a way for users to surf the Web for free, have drawn enough buyers and attention that one Chinese auction site,, had to ban their sale last year.

4-25-10 – Plenty of credit card fraud and identity theft
A survey of 1000 commuters in London has found that a tidal wave of credit card fraud and identity theft is sweeping the UK as 44 % of people said they have suffered from bank/credit card fraud and 42% have had their identity stolen.

4-20-10 – Call Centers for Computer Criminals
A call service that catered to bank and identity thieves has been busted up by U.S. and international authorities. The takedown provides a fascinating glimpse into a bustling and relatively crowded niche of fraud services in the criminal hacker underground. In an indictment unsealed on Monday, New York authorities said two Belarusian nationals suspected of operating a rent-a- fraudster service called were arrested overseas.

4-19-10 – Money Mules Explained
As most of the fraudsters behind these scams are located overseas and it is not possible to make cross-border transfers out of UK online bank accounts overseas, a “money mule” or “money  transfer agent” is required to launder the funds obtained as a result of phishing and Trojan scams. After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts and they then withdraw the money and send it overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment.

3-29-10 – Office photocopiers brimming with corporate secrets
Most people fail to realize that modern, multipurpose photocopiers contain hard drives that – if not erased when decommissioned – could prove to be a treasure trove of confidential information for a person who knows how to extract it. We shred hard copies of important documents and we securely wipe the disks on out computers, but rare is the instance when the same is done with the drive of the copy machine, because most people don’t think of it as of a computer – which it in fact is.

3-26-10 – FBI lists Top 10 posts in cybercriminal operations
Criminal hacker organizations are operating with increasing corporate-like efficiency, specialization and expertise, according to the FBI. From a business perspective, these criminal enterprises are highly productive and staffed by dedicated people willing to operate worldwide, around the clock “without holidays, weekends or vacations,” according to Steven Chabinsky, deputy assistant director in the FBI’s cyber division. “As a result, when an opportunity presents itself these criminals can start planning within hours.”

3-26-10 – Lads from Lagos pose as US troops to snare unwary ladies – Dating Scam
The Lads from Lagos have struck again, this time posing online as US servicemen at war overseas in order to become “romantically involved” with American women fond of a man in uniform and then “prey on their emotions and patriotism”. US military investigators say that female victims of the online scammers have been “swindled out of thousands” by the Lads, who are cutting a swathe through American womanhood “breaking hearts and bank accounts” as they go.

3-26-10 – TJ Maxx Hacker Albert Gonzalez Sentenced to 20 Years for Hacking 100 Million Credit & Debit Cards
Albert Gonzalez has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in the hacking of more than 90 million credit and debit card numbers from TJ Maxx and other retailers. Gonzalez’s prison term could be extended on charges of stealing tens of millions more payment card numbers from companies including payment card processor Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven and the Hannaford chain of New England grocery stores.

3-20-10 – “Scareware” predicted to be a major threat in 2010 Security company McAfee says fake antivirus software popularly known as scareware hits 1 Million computer users each day. The malware is expected to prove the most expensive Internet threat during 2010. During 2008-09, McAfee recorded scareware increasing at the rate of 660%.

3-15-10 – “Money Mules” – How cyber criminals launder money
A “money mule” or “money transfer agent” is required to launder the funds obtained as a result of phishing and trojan scams or other online crimes. Money mules are often a victim who will inadvertently work for the scammer to send stolen money out of the country. After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts and they then withdraw the money and send it overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment.

3-13-10 – USB-based Energizer battery charger software included backdoor malware
Security experts at Symantec have discovered a software application made for a USB-based battery charger sold by Energizer actually included a hidden backdoor that allowed unauthorized remote access to the user’s system. The backdoor Trojan is easily removed, but Symantec believes the tainted software may have been in circulation since May 2007.

3-13-10 – Spam jumps from 600 million to 3 billion during the 2nd half of 2009
The emergence of several large-scale botnets, including Zeus and Koobface, has led to an  enormous spike in the volume of spam, researchers at M86 Security found. They found that 78 percent of all spam was sent by computers that were part of one of the five largest botnets.

3-4-10 – Mariposa botnet taken down – 12.7 million infected computers
The FBI, police in Spain and a Canadian Internet security firm, Defence Intelligence, took control of the huge botnet called Mariposa. This network included nearly 13 million infected computers from 180 countries. Shortly afterward the key players in the botnet were captured. The botnet included infected machines inside the offices of more than 40 major banks and a vast majority of the top companies on the Fortune 1000 index. The personal information of more than 800,000 individuals has also been recovered as a result.

2-25-10 – Smart phones vulnerable to rootkit attacks
Hackers using malware, malicious software, can attack the heart of a smart phone’s operating system. They can talk to the phone’s GPS, turn the phone on to drain the battery, and even tell the phone to make a call to activate the microphone.

2-25-10 – With legal nod, Microsoft ambushes Waledac botnet
In response to a complaint filed by Microsoft, a federal judge issued on Monday a temporary restraining order to shut down 227 Internet domains believed to be run by cybercriminals spreading the Waledac spambot.

2-25-10 – Twitter and social networking credentials can fetch a high sum
The potential for revenue generation is driving the prices of stolen social media credentials. Apparently Hotmail  has fallen out of favor as the ‘going rate’ for Hotmail credentials is only $1.50. Gmail accounts go for $80+  and Twitter credentials can go for up to $1,000.

2-23-10 – U.S. Unprepared for ’Cyber War’, Former Top Spy Official Says
The U.S. isn’t prepared for a massive attack on its computer networks by another country, a former top intelligence official said. “If the nation went to war today, in a cyber war, we would lose,” former Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told a Senate panel today.

2-04-10 – Cyberthieves are hiring, using online ads
The people who brought the world malicious software that steals credit card numbers from your personal computer and empties bank ATMs of their cash are hiring, and they’re advertising online. USTRE61205W20100203

1- 31-10 – US, China, Russia 17 other countries locked in a cyberspace arms race
China, the United States and Russia are among 20 countries locked in a cyberspace arms race and gearing up for possible Internet hostilities, according to the head of web security firm McAfee.

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