Friday, June 20, 2008

Microsoft wipes out 700,000 - too late to the game

A very interesting post came out on the MMPC blog today – Microsoft added some sigs to capture Taterf and Frethog malware variants and captured waaaay more than they expected ( On the first day alone they detected 700,000 Taterf variants, millions in the first week. What is interesting is the sheer volume of malware designed to steal online gaming credentials. This is equivalent to the threat faced by financial institutions every day in the form of keyloggers that steal financial credentials. Except, in this case, the money is stored in game servers. But, like all money – money is just a digit in a computer somewhere. This is not different. The target smells the same if you step back. Just like stolen banking accounts, these accounts are stored in a bad-guy SQL server somewhere and sold for cash based on whatever inventory the character happens to have. The Asia-Pac region is already full of companies that farm gold (aka ‘real cash economy’) – they already have existing relationships with real purchasers in the real-cash economy with set quotas. So, it’s not a stretch to imagine they can clear out and launder 50 million wow gold in 90 days. At the scale of the malware infection described in Microsoft’s blog, this was a huge operation (with the sheer volume of flash and quicktime exploits over Q1 this doesn’t surprise me either). And, by the time these infections were cleaned by Microsoft, it was too late. The game was already over.