Symantec: Underground internet economy continues to grow

Criminal activity continues to thrive online. A botnet is a better investment than any US stock.

Symantec is out with their annual report on the Underground economy and it's clear that crime pays. Apparently we all would have been better off investing in phishing scams and botnets instead of stocks and the US housing market.

Symantec estimates the value of total advertised goods on observed underground economy servers at over $276 million for the reporting period, with credit card information accounting for 59 percent of that total.

Using a median value for credit card fraud and an average bulk purchase size for credit cards, the potential worth of all credit cards advertised during this reporting period would be $5.3 billion.

A few highlights from the report:

  • Bank account credentials were the most commonly advertised item for sale on underground economy servers known to Symantec, accounting for 18 percent of all items; prices for bank account credentials ranged from $10 to $1,000, depending on the balance and location of the account.
  • Desktop games were the most pirated software, accounting for 49 percent of all file instances observed.
  • Symantec observed 69,130 distinct active advertisers and over 44 million total messages posted on underground economy servers during this reporting period.
  • The United States hosted 41 percent of the total observed underground economy servers worldwide, while romania had the second highest percentage at 13 percent of the total.
  • Phishing scam hosting services were offered for an average price of $10 with prices ranging from $2 to $80.
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