Hackers commercialize toolkits for profit

Prices start at $30

In a bid to capitalize on the rising tide of malicious code, enterprising hackers are now commercializing toolkits and selling them for profit.

Entrepreneurial hackers are making money from code that was freely available just a few years ago and generating a healthy profit with prices for toolkits ranging from $30 to $3000.

The 'nuclear toolkit' is just one example.

While it may not be able to take down a nuclear plant, the malicious code can be used without detection and is just one of a range of toolkits available online.

However, if $3000 is too expensive, malcontents can get started with a budget toolkit plus user guide for around $25.

Websense Australia manager Joel Camissar said an entire industry is now behind developing and publishing toolkits for profit.

"The Web sites that are hosting the malicious code also include a statistics page that shows the number of infected clients, the percentage of clients that have been infected (by specific code) and a breakdown by country, operating system and browser," Camissar said.

"Our research shows that 38.2 percent of visitors to a specific Web site said they would be willing to pay between $100 and $300 for exploit code. Another 14 percent said they would be willing to pay more than $1000.

"Some of the Trojan code we have also seen is written to bypass antivirus and antispam and overall, hackers are becoming much more targeted, creative and business savvy."

The 2006 Websense Security threat report, which is a synopsis of all online threats discovered by Websense in the first half of this year, shows a dramatic increase in toolkit availability compared to last year.

The report found a proliferation of toolkits and "how-to" manuals available online and ranging in price from $30 to $3000.

The report found 15 percent of all Web sites designed to steal user credentials are built from these toolkits, and a further 40 percent of all sites are hosted on compromised machines, clear evidence of a high level of hacker 'professionalism'.

"The increases are not solely the result of increases in the number of entities set up to assist 'non-technical' users by selling exploit kits, but also the use of network-level vulnerability exploit tools that allow attackers to infect sites to host their code," the report states.

"One toolkit can be purchased for between $25 to $300 and at the end of the first half of 2006 Websense had 7500 sites in our database either using or pointing to this specific code.

"Another toolkit available is the Nuclear Grabber, which allows an attacker to sit on a real banking site and grab data from electronic forms and this tool, like others, is only available on Russian Web sites. The cost of Nuclear Grabber is a mere $3000."

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