It’s difficult to chronicle a battle in which neither side wants to admit publicly that he is fighting for his life, or indeed that he has even launched attacks against his enemy. But such is the nature of a business-feud-turned-turf-war that is now playing out slowly between bosses of two of the Internet’s largest illicit pharmacy operations.
An organized crime group thought to include individuals responsible for the notorious Storm and Waledac worms generated more than $150 million promoting rogue online pharmacies via spam and hacking, according to data obtained by KrebsOnSecurity.com.
I recently returned from a trip to Russia, where I traveled in part to interview a few characters involved in running the world’s biggest illicit online pharmacies. I arrived just days after the real fireworks, when several truckloads of masked officers from Russian drug enforcement bureaus raided a party thrown exclusively for the top moneymakers of Rx-Promotion, a major e-pharmacy program co-owned by one of the men I went to meet.
Criminals this week hijacked ChronoPay.com, the domain name for Russia’s largest online payment processor, redirecting hundreds of unsuspecting visitors to a fake ChronoPay page that stole customer financial data.
ChronoPay chief executive Pavel Vrublevsky said the bogus payment page was up for several hours on Christmas day, during which time the attackers collected roughly 800 credit card numbers from customers visiting the site to make payments for various services that rely on ChronoPay for processing.
The man arrested in Armenia last week for allegedly operating the massive “Bredolab” botnet — a network of some 30 million hacked Microsoft Windows PCs that were rented out to cyber crooks — appears to have generated much of his clientele as a key affiliate of Spamit.com, the global spamming operation whose members are blamed for sending a majority of the world’s pharmaceutical spam.
A leading Russian politician has accused a prominent Moscow businessman of running an international spam and online pharmacy operation while serving as an anti-spam adviser to the Russian government. Russian investigators now say they plan to create a special task force to look into the allegations.
It is said that you can judge the mettle of a man by the quality of his enemies. So I guess it should be flattering when a group of individuals who appear dedicated to making misery for countless Internet users express glee at what they perceive as my misfortune.