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Most Malware Tied to 'pay-Per-Install' Market

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Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Software Development Technologies have found that most personal computers that get infected with malware were targeted by pay-per-install (PPI) services, which charge hacking gangs up to $180 per 1,000 successful installations. 

Typical installation schemes involve uploading tainted programs to public file-sharing networks, hacking legitimate Web sites to automatically download the files onto visitors' machines, and quietly running the programs on PCs they have already compromised.

The researchers developed a map of the distribution of malware and PPI services, and the system classified the collected malware by type of network traffic each sample generated when run on a test system. The researchers found that Europe and the United States were the most common targets. They also found that PPI programs almost always installed bots that engage infected machines using click fraud schemes.

"Going into this study, I didn't appreciate that PPI is potentially the number one vector for badness out there," says Berkeley's Vern Paxson. "We have a sense now that botnets potentially are worth millions [of dollars] per year, because they provide a means for miscreants to outsource the global dissemination of their malware."

From Technology Review
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