Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

1/23/2009
04:52 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Phishing Doesn't Pay, Microsoft Finds

Lured by bad math and get-rich-quick pipe dreams into a life of cybercrime, those phishing for dollars confront a problem not unlike that faced by traditional anglers: too few fish in the sea.

Phishing doesn't pay very well and tends to attract low-skill hackers who themselves become victims.

So say two Microsoft researchers, Cormac Herley and Dinei Florencio, in their recently published paper, "A Profitless Endeavor: Phishing As Tragedy Of The Commons."

"Far from being an easy money proposition we claim that phishing is a low-skill, low-reward business, where the average phisher makes about as much as if he did something legal with his time," the paper says.

Part of the blame for this sorry state of affairs can be laid at the feet of exaggerated phishing loss estimates. "We estimate that recent public estimates overstate phishing losses by as much as a factor of 50," the paper explains.

Who might be to blame for such inflation? Try the media, which finds big dangers more compelling than little ones, and the security industry, which can't sell goods or services in the absence of a clear and present danger.

Lured by bad math and get-rich-quick pipe dreams into a life of cybercrime, those phishing for dollars confront a problem not unlike that faced by traditional anglers: too few fish in the sea. The result is what's known as the tragedy of the commons, wherein a limited resource becomes depleted when self-interest supersedes group interest.

"The easier phishing gets, the worse the economic picture for phishers," the paper says. "As phishers put more and more effort into the endeavor the total revenue falls rather than rises." Based on that finding, Herley and Florencio conclude that increased phishing volume indicates a decrease in total revenue, as phishers compete to capture the limited pool of phishing money.

Phishing appears to operate like every gold rush: The ones making money are the ones selling tools to starry-eyed prospectors, or servers to Web 2.0 startups.

As the paper's authors put it, "Indeed, one explanation of the thriving trade in phishing-related services ... is that phishers with more experience prey upon those with less. That is, those who have tried phishing and found it unprofitable or marginally profitable find it better to sell services to those who haven't reached that conclusion yet."

This supposition is supported by a paper presented last year at the Usenix Conference, "There Is No Free Phish: An Analysis Of 'Free' And Live Phishing Kits." It found that the big phishers -- the authors of phishing kits -- preyed on the little phishers who used their phishing kits.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Sodinokibi Ransomware: Where Attackers' Money Goes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/15/2019
Data Privacy Protections for the Most Vulnerable -- Children
Dimitri Sirota, Founder & CEO of BigID,  10/17/2019
State of SMB Insecurity by the Numbers
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-17424
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-22
A stack-based buffer overflow in the processPrivilage() function in IOS/process-general.c in nipper-ng 0.11.10 allows remote attackers (serving firewall configuration files) to achieve Remote Code Execution or Denial Of Service via a crafted file.
CVE-2019-16404
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
Authenticated SQL Injection in interface/forms/eye_mag/js/eye_base.php in OpenEMR through 5.0.2 allows a user to extract arbitrary data from the openemr database via a non-parameterized INSERT INTO statement, as demonstrated by the providerID parameter.
CVE-2019-17400
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
The unoconv package before 0.9 mishandles untrusted pathnames, leading to SSRF and local file inclusion.
CVE-2019-17498
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
In libssh2 v1.9.0 and earlier versions, the SSH_MSG_DISCONNECT logic in packet.c has an integer overflow in a bounds check, enabling an attacker to specify an arbitrary (out-of-bounds) offset for a subsequent memory read. A crafted SSH server may be able to disclose sensitive information or cause a ...
CVE-2019-16969
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
In FusionPBX up to 4.5.7, the file app\fifo_list\fifo_interactive.php uses an unsanitized "c" variable coming from the URL, which is reflected in HTML, leading to XSS.