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Finjan’s Research Reveals Cybercrime Path to Millions

March 2009 by Finjan

Finjan Inc. announced that its Malicious Code Research Center (MCRC) managed to research one of the rogueware affiliate networks, where members make $ 10,800 a day. In the first issue of its Cybercrime Intelligence Report for 2009, Finjan shows how the rogueware was distributed using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Cybercriminals used SEO to optimize the distribution of their rogueware. Typos and misspelled keywords (such as “obbama” and liscense”) as well as trendy keywords taken from Google Trends system were abused to show compromised websites as top search results. Subsequently, the traffic volume to the compromised websites increased significantly luring masses of potential buyers to the rogueware offering.

The Cybercrime Intelligence Report covers the following:

· Cybercriminals are professionally organized and operate affiliate networks to boost their malware and rogueware distribution

· To promote their rogueware, they compromise legitimate websites by injecting SEO targeted pages which include repetitive popular search keywords with minor typos

· Search engines indexed these injected pages and display them as top search results

· This SEO targeted technique has proven to be very effective and yielded almost half a million Google searches to compromised sites, according to statistics found on the criminal’s server during the research

· 1.8M unique users were redirected to the rogue Anti-Virus software during 16 consecutive days

· Members of the affiliate network were rewarded for each successful redirection with 9.6 cents “a piece”, which totals $ 172,800 or $ 10,800 per day

“As reported by Finjan before, cybercriminals keep on looking for improved methods to distribute their malware and rogueware. Since they make money by trading stolen data or selling rogue software, they are looking for new and innovative techniques all time. To increase the distribution reach of their rogueware, they successfully turned to SEO,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO of Finjan.

The report further details how the cybercriminals created “doorways” to redirect users searching the web. The research is described in Finjan’s first Cybercrime Intelligence Report released today.




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