Secrets of the underground economy

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Secrets of the underground economy
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Next, fraudsters traded in financial accounts, at 20 per cent of the total. Stolen bank account information sells for between $10 and $1,000, but the average advertised stolen bank account balance is nearly $40,000. Symantec calculated that the total value of bank accounts advertised as US$1.7 billion.

The average price of a botnet was $25, while the price of phishing scam hosting, keystroke loggers or screen scrapers was $10.

Desktop computer games made up 49 per cent of pirated software, which Scroggie said directly correlated to retail sales in the legitimate market. Following that was commercial software suites such as Adobe’s Creative Suite. “There was a large number of pirated games but the average retail price of games is low – around $50. So there’s a large amount of piracy, but not a large amount of money.”

The underground economy is spread out across the world, ranging from loose collections of individuals to organised and sophisticated groups. North America hosted the largest number of servers, with 45 per cent of the total; Europe/Middle East/Africa hosted 38 per cent; Asia/Pacific with 12 per cent; and Latin America with 5 per cent.

The report noted that the geographical locations of underground economy servers are constantly changing to evade detection.

Scroggie said businesses and individuals could take simple steps to protecting themselves from online fraud.

“They can protect themselves by ensuring they have messaging filtering, a defensive depth strategy, multiple mutual overlapping or complementary software, such as anti-viral, anti-spyware, anti-malware and anti-phishing.

“You can buy a combination of these technologies from reputable security vendors.”

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