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Botnets Help Cyber Criminals Earn Huge Revenues, says Kaspersky

According to Yury Namestnikov, an antivirus analyst at Kaspersky Lab, who presented an article titled "Botnet Economics", the total revenue earned from phishing activities can be compared with the total income reaped from stealing confidential data through harmful programs, and it adds to huge amounts of dollars every year, as reported by Dark Reading on July 22, 2009.

Almost 80% of spam are distributed through zombie networks which are huge armies of compromised PCs. Last year (2008), spammers earned approximately $780 Million, Kaspersky estimates. Besides, cyber criminals are producing bulk phishing websites and they use botnets to prevent them from closing.

Security analysts state that botnet herders earn income from sources like Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, spam, malware distribution, phishing, theft of sensitive data, search engine based spam and click fraud.

Furthermore, the resources provided by zombie networks are also utilized to distribute malicious programs and adware. For instance, online advertising firms, which employ Pay-Per-Click technique, give money for exceptional clicks to promote their advertisements, while botnet herders make huge sums of money by creating techniques that appear similar to them, and thereby deceive these firms. During 2008, approximately 17% of the total clicks for advertising links were bogus, one third of which were generated via botnets.

Security researchers state that to combat against botnets, the most effective way is to ally with the ISPs, specialists of antivirus applications and agencies for law enforcement. Such mutual aid has already resulted in shutting down three companies - McColo, Atrivo and EstDomains whose servers supported prominent spam botnets' command-and-control centers.

However, Namestnikov stated - agencies for law enforcement could halt the command-and-control points as well as capture cyber criminals. It is also essential to garner help from users to effectively counter botnets, since most bots are compromised home PCs. Thus, users need to strictly adhere to the common security rules, Namestnikov explained.

To stay protected from computer compromises, users should keep their AV software up-to-date, the computer firewall enabled, and the operating software as well as all intermediary desktop programs fully up-to-date, according to the security specialists.

Related article: Botnet Misuses Google Analytics

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