Thursday, November 06, 2008

Researchers Hijack Storm Worm to Track Profits

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

A single response from 12 million e-mails is all it takes for spammers to turn annual profits of millions of dollars promoting knockoff pharmaceuticals, according to an unprecedented new study [.pdf] on the economics of spam.

Over a period of about a month in the Spring of 2008, researchers at the University of California, San Diego and UC Berkeley sought to measure the conversation rate of spam by quietly infiltrating the Storm worm botnet, a vast collection of compromised computers once responsible for sending an estimated 20 percent of all spam.

The teams at Berkley and UCSD conducted the experiment by impersonating a key component of the Storm worm network used to hand off instructions from the worm's master control servers to the "worker bots" -- the tens of thousands of infected end-user systems that do all the spamming.

This allowed them to redirect a subset of the spam to virtual storefronts created by the researchers to mimic the pharmaceutical Web sites advertised by the real Storm spam.

More here.


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