Malware Operators Pay Big Bucks For Access To US And British PCs

Brad Chacos

When someone says the word "Zombies," we immediately mutter the word "Cool" in a low voice and think back to the fun zombie-killing action in Shaun of the Dead or Dead Rising 2 . But while zombie movies and video games may strain the outer edges of awesome, zombified computers just suck. If you live in the US or UK, we have bad news: a recent report studying malware distribution claims that your computers are the most valuable compromised computers in the world.

That's right; not all computers are created equal. Researchers report that infected British and American computers command top dollar on the malware market, with the pay-per-install groups that "own" the compromised PCs selling access to them at $110 to $180 per 1,000 machines in those markets. Network World reports that access in other European countries clocks in at less than half that price, at $60 per 1,000 machines. Tapping into infected PCs in the rest of the world is downright cheap; $10 will net you access to 1,000 machines. In other terms, that's just about the cost of a Triple Whopper meal.

The article suggests that while some malware, such as the now nearly dead Rustock spam network, can operate from any IP address, other malware, such as SecuritySuite, accesses the infected PCs in order to convince its owners to purchase things like fake antivirus programs. That requires pitches tailored to the specific markets – hence the higher price for US and UK machines as opposed to, say, Asian and African PCs.

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