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1/20/2011
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PandaLabs Releases Investigative Report On The State Of The Black Market

PandaLabs reveals extensive criminal network selling stolen bank credentials and cybercrime-related products online

ORLANDO, Fla., January 20, 2011— PandaLabs, Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory, has released an investigative report on the current cyber-crime black market. PandaLabs discovered a vast network selling stolen bank details along with other types of products in forums and more than 50 dedicated online stores. This is a rapidly growing industry and cyber-criminals are aiding and abetting each other’s efforts to steal personal information for financial profit. After posing as a cyber-criminal to infiltrate the network, PandaLabs made some alarming discoveries which are available in the full report here: http://press.pandasecurity.com/usa/press-room/panda-white-paper/.

The cyber-crime black market, which has traditionally centered on distributing bank and credit card details stolen from users around the world, diversified its business model in 2010, and now sells a much broader range of hacked confidential information including bank credentials, log-ins, passwords, fake credit cards and more. But as openly available as this information is, PandaLabs discovered that it can only be accessed by personally contacting the hackers who are promoting their information for sale on forums and in chat rooms.

Making the Sale

By having access to bank credentials, criminals can easily defraud any bank or credit card account long before the hack is discovered. Alarmingly, this data can be purchased for as little as $2 per card, but this level does not provide additional information or verification of the account balance available. If the buyer wants a guarantee for the available credit line or bank balance, the price increases to $80 for smaller bank balances and upwards of $700 to access accounts with a guaranteed balance of $82,000.

Prices are higher if the accounts have a history of online shopping or use payment platforms such as PayPal. For a simple account without a guaranteed balance, PandaLabs found prices starting at $10 and increasing to $1,500 depending on the platform and the guarantee of available funds. Similarly, these cyber-criminals also offer cloned credit/debit cards (from $180), card cloning machines ($200-1,000), and even fake ATM machines (from $3,500 depending on the model). Additional products such as money laundering services (bank transfers or cashing checks) are available for a commission ranging from 10 to 40 percent of the operation. If buyers want to use stolen bank details to buy products online, but are wary of being traced through the delivery address, the cyber-criminals will make the purchase and forward the goods for a fee of between $30 and $300 (depending on the chosen product).

For more sophisticated cyber-criminals who want to set up their own fake online stores and use rogueware techniques to obtain both user details and also reap the money these unsuspecting victims pay for fake antivirus products, there are also teams available to deliver turnkey projects, design, develop and publish the complete store, even positioning it in search engines. In this case, the price depends on the project.

Prices for botnet rental for sending spam (using bot-infected zombie computers, for example) vary depending on the number of computers used and the frequency of the spam, or the rental period. Prices start at $15 and rise to $20 for the rental of a SMTP server or VPN to guarantee anonymity.

Big Business

This cyber-criminal black market caters to buyers’ needs just as any other business, and functions in similar ways. Since there is a great deal of competition in this industry, the rule of supply and demand ensures that prices are competitive, and operators even offer bulk discounts to higher-volume buyers. They will offer free ‘trial’ access to stolen bank or credit card details, as well as money back guarantees and free exchanges.

However, since it is a black market, there are clearly many areas that differ from traditional business. Since anonymity is of the utmost importance, many sellers use underground forums to keep out of sight. Their offices are effectively the Internet, though they even go as far as advertising their ‘office hours.’ Some are more brazen about their activities, and have accounts on Facebook and Twitter which they use as shop windows. To ensure anonymity, contact is always made across instant messaging applications or free, generic email accounts.

Once contact is made, the transaction can be executed directly or through a website set up by the seller, using a username and password, which as with any online store, allows buyers to browse and fill their “shopping cart.” Payment is always made up-front using services such as Western Union, Liberty Reserve and WebMoney.

More information is available in the PandaLabs Blog.

About PandaLabs

Since 1990, PandaLabs, the malware research division of Panda Security, has led the industry in detecting, classifying and protecting consumers and businesses against new cyber threats. At the core of the operation is Collective Intelligence, a proprietary system that provides real-time protection by harnessing Panda’s community of users to automatically detect, analyze, classify and disinfect more than 63,000 new malware samples daily. The automated classification is complemented by a highly specialized global team of threat analysts, each focused on a specific type of malware, such as viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware and other exploits, to ensure around-the-clock protection. Learn more about PandaLabs and subscribe to the PandaLabs blog at http://www.pandalabs.com. Follow Panda on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Panda_Security and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PandaUSA.

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