Cyber-criminals able to access Irish computers for 10 cents a machine

23 Jul 20143 Shares

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Gangs of cyber-criminals selling access to ‘do it yourself’ malware platforms are able to sell access to compromised computers for as little as US$0.10 per computer.

These gangs can infect millions of computers around the globe with their own custom malware. Then in a sinister move they will then sell the infected users to other criminals who want to extort financial details from the infected computers’ users.

Irish IT security firm Smarttech.ie has reported that a price war has broken out among cyber-criminals, resulting in the cost of a hacked computer falling by nearly 50pc since the start of 2014.

“For the criminal gangs around the world who want to launch a cyberattack, it is a buyers’ market,” said Smarttech.ie’s Ronan Murphy.

“Initially, they may not have had the skills to build and deploy the malware services themselves but with this new user-friendly model they can buy it off the shelf.”

“Also the appetite for this service is huge and competition has seen prices fall by 50pc since the start of the year. In the USA, cyber-criminals will now sell a list of 10,000 computers that have been deliberately infected with a customised virus, for only US$1,000 in total or US$0.10 per computer,” Murphy added.

“We see evidence on a daily basis of Irish customers who have also fallen prey to these global botnets.”  

The MaaS industry

In the new Malware as a Service (MaaS) industry, cyber-criminals are able to access the same kind of professional services that are normally associated with the legitimate Software as a Service (SaaS) industry.

The scale of the cybercrime operations and the number of new entrants in the MaaS market has resulted in malware as an industry going mainstream, with cyber-criminals offering extremely high levels of customer care. 

“The MaaS market is a scary prospect because it allows non-technical criminals to branch out into an area where they have no experience,” Murphy said.

“Criminals are able to access all the professional customer care services, such as 24 hours web chat, quality assurance and all the other necessary support services.

“For criminals, they are able to order customised viruses which are geo-specific, making Irish-owned computers a legitimate target for cyber-criminals.”

Hacker attack image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com