Ramblings & ephemera

The various participants in phishing schemes

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007):

Christopher Abad provides insight into the phishing economy in an article published online by FirstMonday.org (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/ issue10_9/abad/). The article, “The economy of phishing: A survey of the operations of the phishing market,” reveals the final phase of the phishing life cycle, called cashing. These are usually not the botherders or the phishers. The phishers are simply providers of credential goods to the cashers. Cashers buy the credential goods from the phishers, either taking a commission on the funds extracted or earned based on the quality, completeness, which financial institution it is from, and the victim’s balance in the account. A high-balance, verified, full-credential account can be purchased for up to $100. Full creden- tials means that you have the credit card number, bank and routing numbers, the expiration date, the security verification code (cvv2) on the back of the card, the ATM pin number, and the current balance. Credit card numbers for a financial institution selected by the supplier can be bought for 50 cents per account. The casher’s commission of this transaction may run as much as 70 percent. When the deal calls for commissions to be paid in cash, the vehicle of choice is Western Union.

The continuation of phishing attacks depends largely on the ability of the casher’s to convert the information into cash. The preferred method is to use the credential information to create duplicate ATM cards and use the cards to withdraw cash from ATM terminals. Not surprisingly the demand for these cards leans heavily in favor of banks that provide inadequate protections of the ATM cards. Institutions like Bank of America are almost nonexistent in the phisher marketplace due to the strong encryption (triple DES) used to protect information on its ATM cards.

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