Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Chinese zombie computer industry

HTWW has a nice summary of the active Chinese market in zombie computers ...
How the World Works: Globalization

"In China, the going rate for a flesh chicken is anywhere from 0.1 to 10 renminbi. (10 renminbi equals 1.34 dollars.) A flesh chicken is what we in the West call a zombie computer -- a compromised machine that does the bidding of someone other than the legitimate owner. In Mandarin, according to a fascinating new report on the world of Chinese malware, the words 'chicken' and 'machine' sound similar, thus the pun.

In other parts of the world networks of flesh chickens are put to use generating spam for penis enlargement pills or, as another equally riveting new report tells us, pro-Ron Paul propaganda. But in China, the main goal in gaining control of user machines is to capture the passwords and usernames that allow access to online game worlds or the virtual currency employed in China's hugely popular QQ instant messaging network. (Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.)...
Readers of Neuromancer knew about this almost 25 years ago.

I suspect the Chinese government considers these kinds of activities as a relatively harmless way to use the restless energy of millions of excess males.

The low cost of a zombie computer is reassuring. The price tells us there is such a vast pool of vulnerable machines that there's no need to invest in much more costly OS X attacks.

I'd like to see a futures market in Zombie machines; a price rise would give us advanced warning of an upmarket threat.

PS. The link to a securenet analysis of the Ron Paul botnet spam is well worth following. The coordinating host machine lived in US based co-location facility and was described as "well known" to botnet researchers. See my next post ...

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