It’s been a while since a new category debuted on this blog, and it occurred to me that I didn’t have a catch-all designation for random ne’er-do-well news. Alas, the inaugural entry for Ne’er-Do-Well News looks at three recent unrelated developments: The availability of remote access iPhone apps written by a programmer perhaps best known for developing crimeware; the return to prison of a young hacker who earned notoriety after simultaneously hacking Paris Hilton’s cell phone and data broker LexisNexis; and the release of Pavel Vrublevsky from a Russian prison more than a year before his sentence was to expire.
Pavel Vrublevsky, the owner of Russian payments firm ChronoPay and the subject of an upcoming book by this author, was arrested today in Moscow for witness intimidation in his ongoing trial for allegedly hiring hackers to attack against Assist, a top ChronoPay competitor.
Last week, National Public Radio aired a story on my Pharma Wars series, which chronicles an epic battle between men who ran two competing cybercrime empires that used spam to pimp online pharmacy sites. As I was working with the NPR reporter on the story, I was struck by how much spam has decreased over the past couple of years. Below is a graphic that’s based on spam data collected by Symantec’s MessageLabs. It shows that global spam volumes fell and spiked fairly regularly, from highs of 6 trillion messages sent per month to just below 1 trillion. I produced this graph based on Symantec’s raw spam data.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve published a series of posts that provide clues about the possible real-life identities of the men responsible for building some of the largest and most disruptive spam botnets on the planet. I’ve since done a bit more digging into the backgrounds of the individuals thought to be responsible for the Rustock and Waledac spam botnets, which has produced some additional fascinating and corroborating details about these two characters.
Consumer demand for cheap prescription drugs sold through spam-advertised Web sites shows no sign of abating, according to a new analysis of bookeeping records maintained by three of the world’s largest rogue pharmacy operations.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, the International Computer Science Institute and George Mason University examined caches of data showing the day-to-day finances of GlavMed, SpamIt, and Rx-Promotion, shadowy affiliate programs that over a four-year period processed more than $170 million worth of orders from customers seeking cheaper, more accessible and more discretely available drugs. The result is is perhaps the most detailed analysis yet of the business case for the malicious software and spam epidemics that persist to this day.
It was mid November 2011. I was shivering on the upper deck of an aging cruise ship docked at the harbor in downtown Rotterdam. Inside, a big-band was jamming at a reception for attendees of the GovCert cybersecurity conference, where I had delivered a presentation earlier that day on a long-running turf war between two of the largest sponsors of spam.
The evening was bracingly frigid and blustery, and I was waiting there to be introduced to investigators from the Russian Federal Security Service; several FSB agents who attended the conference told our Dutch hosts that they wanted to meet me in a private setting. Stepping out the night air, a woman from the conference approached, formally presented the three men behind her, and then hurried back inside to the warmth of the reception
The last post in this series introduced the world to “Google,” an alias chosen by the hacker in charge of Cutwail — currently the world’s largest spam botnet. Google rented his crime machine to members of SpamIt, an organization that paid spammers to promote rogue Internet pharmacy sites. This made Google a top dog, but also a primary target of other botmasters selling software to SpamIt, particularly the hacker known as “SPM,” the guy behind the infamous Srizbi botnet.
Previous stories in my Pharma Wars series have identified top kingpins behind the world’s largest spam botnets. Today’s post includes never-before-published information on “Google,” the secretive hacker in charge of the infamous Cutwail botnet.
Recently leaked online chat records may provide the closest look yet at a Russian man awaiting trial in Wisconsin on charges of running a cybercrime machine once responsible for sending between 30 to 40 percent of the world’s junk email.
Last week, not long after I published the latest installment in my Pharma Wars series, KrebsOnSecurity.com was the target of a sustained distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that caused the site to be unavailable for some readers between Nov. 17 and 18. What follows are some details about that attack, and how it compares to previous intimidation attempts.
The DDoS was caused by incessant, garbage requests from more than 20,000+ PCs around the globe infected with malware that allows criminals to control them remotely for nefarious purposes. If you’ve noticed that a few of the features on this site haven’t worked as usual these past few days, now you know why. Thanks for your patience.