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.
In February, I published the results of an investigation into the identity of the man behind the once-infamous Srizbi spam botnet. Today’s post looks at the individual(s) likely involved in running the now-defunct Xarvester botnet, a spam machine that experts say appeared shortly after Srizbi went offline and shared remarkably similar traits.
Srizbi was also known in the underground as “Reactor Mailer,” and customers could register to spam from the crime machine by logging into accounts at reactormailer.com. That domain was registered to a firstname.lastname@example.org, an address that my reporting indicates was used by a Philipp Pogosov; more commonly known by his nickname SPM, Pogosov was a top moneymaker for SpamIt, a rogue online pharmacy affiliate program that was responsible for a huge percentage of junk email over the past half-decade.
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.