Hurray for the Spanish security authorities! They captured the Mariposa botnet operators. The Mariposa botnet networked through nearly 13 million computers across 190 countries. It compromised systems from across several Fortune 1000 companies and 40 financial institutions. At the time of his arrest, one of the botnet operators possessed sensitive information about approximately 800,000 victims.
The three men, authorities said, were no computer geniuses. Now it seems almost anyone can operate a botnet through simple commands on self-explanatory, Web-based programs. 66% of last year’s malware were data-stealing programs, most of which were produced with do-it-yourself hacking kits. So easy to learn, “your grandmother could build a botnet.”
Fraud software is also growing and becoming a competitive sport. Hackers compete against each other to make the most effective and easy-to-use tools. Within the software are powerful search engine so amateur hackers can browse through their victims’ machines and find detailed information, such as which banks they use.
The software allows criminals to use simple onscreen checkboxes to choose the vulnerabilities – the holes used to plant malicious programs in users’ computers – generating colorful graphics detailing victims’ attacked and the operating systems and browsers they use. The program even offers 24-hour technical support.
The FBI reported that Internet fraud victims lost about $560 million last year, more than double the amount reported in 2008.
Security experts say these cyber-criminals usually make their money from distributing spam, crashing Web sites with a flood of traffic, or selling stolen credentials.
Read full story by, Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera, Chronicle Staff Writer