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Digital black market offers cheap botnets for hire

The data can be purchased for as little as $2

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Botnets for hire to launch your own spam campaign and stolen credit card information sold at the rock bottom price of $2 are just two of the commodities easily found on the cyber-crime black market today, according to a report released this month by Panda Security. The report, which was conducted by PandaLabs researchers who posed as cyber criminals, details a vast criminal network selling stolen bank account information in forums and dedicated online stores.

"This is a rapidly growing industry and cyber-criminals are aiding and abetting each other's efforts to steal personal information for financial profit," Panda Security officials note in a release on the findings. "The cyber-crime black market, which has traditionally centered on distributing bank and credit card details stolen from users around the world, diversified its business model in 2010, and now sells a much broader range of hacked confidential information including bank credentials, log-ins, passwords, fake credit cards and more."

The report also delves into a detailed pricing system and the digital black market prices for various types of stolen information. However, PandaLabs discovered that while the information may be available, it can only be accessed by personally contacting the hackers who are promoting their information for sale on forums and in chat rooms.

Once the information is in a criminal's hands they can easily defraud any bank or credit card account long before the hack is discovered, the report claims. The data can be purchased for as little as $2 per card. But $2 will not provide the buyer with additional information or verification of the account balance available.

"If the buyer wants a guarantee for the available credit line or bank balance, the price increases to $80 for smaller bank balances and upwards of $700 to access accounts with a guaranteed balance of $82,000," said researchers.

The report also details an intricate price structure for accounts with a history of online shopping or use of payment platforms such as PayPal. If stolen credit card numbers aren't your thing, prices are also available for botnet rental to launch a spam campaign. The price range varies depending on the number of computers used and the frequency of the spam, or the rental period, the report reveals. Prices start at $15 and rise to $20 for the rental of a SMTP server or VPN to guarantee anonymity. One can also hire cyber criminals to assist with the set up of a fake online store to use rogueware techniques for stealing user details and profiting off unsuspecting victims who pay for fake antivirus products.

"There are also teams available to deliver turnkey projects, design, develop and publish the complete store, even positioning it in search engines," the report states. "In this case, the price depends on the project."



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