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“I’ve got one word for you: Malware”

For a $3,000 banking trojan, payback approaches $72,000

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“I’ve got one word for you: Malware”

Ever wonder how much malware costs?

Cybercriminals could be raking in profits 20 times greater than the cost of their attacks, according to figures compiled by Kaspersky Lab experts.

Their research compared the cost of the most frequently used hacker tools with the money stolen in a successful malicious operation.

"Buying malware is currently not a problem: It’s easy to find them on various hacker forums, and they are relatively cheap, making them attractive,” says Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Cybercriminals don’t even need any skills—for a fixed price they can get an off-the-shelf package to launch their attacks at will, says Gostev.

“As a result, users need to be especially careful to ensure they don’t lose their money or data,” he warns.

For example, creating a phishing page to mimic a popular social network and setting up a spam mass mailing linking to the fake site currently costs an average of only $150. However, if the attackers catch 100 people on their phishing page, they can net up to $10,000 by selling the sensitive data. The victims, in turn, lose their valuable contacts, personal photos, and messages.

A mobile trojan blocker is much more expensive. Today it costs $1,000, on average, to buy and distribute the malware.

However, the "payoff" is also much higher. The prices that the attackers set for unblocking a smartphone vary from $10 to $200, which means that from 100 potential victims they can make up to $20,000.

The same sum can be earned by using encrypting ransomware, but the initial investment will be twice as high—about $2,000. The attackers’ losses will also be higher because the minimum sum of the ransom requested by cybercriminals for decrypting the data is usually $100.

To really hit the jackpot, cybercriminals look for banking trojans that target money directly. After spending about $3,000 on the malware, the exploit, and a spam mailing to spread the trojans around, cybercriminals could scoop up to $72,000. The average loss of an individual victim is about $722.

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