Study examines role of China in cybercrime

A study (PDF) published this week by researchers from China and Germany provides insight into the scope of the rapidly growing underground cybercrime economy in China. The paper explores the complex relationships between different kinds of participants in the underground economy, reveals the value of various illicit technical goods and services, measures the number of malware propagation sites, and evaluates the mitigation efficacy of popular antivirus programs.

The paper describes an economic model for China’s cybercrime underground and enumerates several categories of participants: malware developers, phishing site operators, crackers, login information (referred to as “envelopes” in the study) thieves, virtual asset thieves, and virtual asset sellers. The study also identifies an additional category of participants—called players—who purchase dubiously-obtained virtual assets, typically for use in popular Internet games. The paper then explains how participants from these categories interact to create the underground market. (link)

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