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July 30, 2009

Forget about malware, rogueware is where its at!

Black Hat has been a great if not subdued event this year.  Many of the presentations were very good, as were many of the presentations at the Bside event held for the first time this year.  The thing I found most interesting though was my chance to sit down and speak with Sean‐Paul Correll  and Luis Corrons of Panda Security Labs about a new report they just released today on the business of rogueware. By Rogueware they primarily talk about the fake anti-virus and and fake virus scan scams we have seen explode over the last few years.  You know the type, you go to a site and they tell you your computer has been comprimised. You can buy a scan and clean up for fifty dollars. They neither scan nor clean up. In fact they install a trojan or botnet instead to ad insult to injury. The numbers are staggering. In 2008 the number of new rogueware samples found blew away everything that had come before, but 2009 is already dwarfing 2008. The following chart from the report from Panda Labs illustrates this:

growth of rougue av

According to the report, this niche in the bigger malware market netted the bad guys about a half a billion dollars last year!  They have affiliates who front their programs on many web sites. They flood Google with URLs so that their sites come up on legitimate searches.  They have thought of so many ways of delivering the payload.  Of course isn’t that always the problem.  The bad guys are bad and smart and devious. They always are on to the next thing, while we are still trying to defeat the old thing.  I am sure many of you know friends and family who have fell for this rogueware scam.  I certainly have.  One large company behind this menace actually hold yearly affiliate conferences in places like Jamaica, complete with complementary lap dances and hedonistic parties. With this kind of money at stake, you can see why this type of stuff is so popular.

Anyway the report is pretty fascinating. I am going to have Sean-Paul and Luis on a future podcast to talk more about it, so stay tuned.  In the meantime don’t be the next victim contributing to this industry.  Use reputable anti-malware and keep your common sense helmet on when using the web!

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