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Kaspersky Lab: Botnet Business Reaches Million-Dollar Mark

Botnet Economics article discusses the various applications of zombie networks and explains how cybercriminals use them as a money machine
WOBURN, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 07/22/09 -- Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of Internet threat protection solutions that defend against computer viruses, spyware and all forms of malicious software, presents a new analytical article from Yury Namestnikov, antivirus analyst based in the Company's world-renown antivirus Lab in Moscow. The article entitled "Botnet Economics" discusses the various applications of zombie networks and explains how Cybercriminals use them as a money machine.

What is a Botnet? A botnet is a network that consists of computers infected by malicious software, which allows Cybercriminals to control the infected machines remotely without the users' knowledge. Botnet owners' sources of income include DDoS attacks, theft of confidential information, spam, phishing, search engine spam, click fraud and distribution of malware and adware.

DDoS attacks can also be used as an instrument of unfair competition or be demonstrations of cyberterrorism.

New phishing sites are now mass-produced by Cybercriminals, with botnets being used to protect the sites from closure. The income from phishing is comparable to the theft of confidential data using malicious programs, adding up to millions of dollars per year in revenue. About 80 percent of all spam is sent via zombie networks, and in the past year, spammers made an estimated $780 million.

Resources provided by zombie networks can also be used to distribute adware and malicious programs. As an example, online advertising agencies that use the Pay-Per-Click scheme pay for unique clicks on advertisements. Botnet owners can make significant amounts of money by creating schemes that look similar, in turn cheating these types of companies. About 17 percent of all advertising link clicks in 2008 were fake, of which a third were generated by botnets.

Combating Botnets Today, the most effective method of combating botnets is to join the forces of antivirus experts, ISPs and law enforcement agencies. Such cooperation has already resulted in the closure of three companies: EstDomains, Atrivo and McColo, whose servers' hosted command and control centers for major spam botnets.

Quote: Yury Namestnikov, Antivirus Analyst Kaspersky Lab "Only law enforcement agencies can stop the command and control centers and catch Cybercriminals. On the other hand, it is obvious that without help from users, combating botnets cannot be effective, since it is home computers that make up the lion's share of all bots. It is important for users to stick to simple IT security rules."

Simple IT Security Rules from Kaspersky Lab