If you've been infected with malware lately, it might well have been to make your computer part of a botnet — a legion of zombie computers that hackers leverage remotely for big tasks like sending spam or launching denial-of-service attacks on websites.
Enterprising hackers sell or rent out their botnets for other miscreants to use. And as in real life, prices are all about location, location, location. Those botnets comprised of machines in wealthier nations fetch a higher fee. What may not be so obvious, though, is the premium on purebreds.
Security researcher Dancho Danchev has published a new guide that prices botnets on a sliding scale based on whether they're "World Mix," "EU Mix" or made up of infected computers in a single country. It sheds new light on how much cybercriminals are willing to pay for purity in order to infect more lucrative demographics.
For example, a botnet of 1,000 U.S. host computers costs $120 compared to just $25 for 1,000 hosts spread throughout the world. The pure American botnet costs almost five times as much. (Danchev doesn't specify whether this is for limited or unlimited use of the computers.)
“Naturally, purchasing access to U.S.-based malware-infected hosts is more expensive than, for instance, purchasing access to hosts based in Germany, Canada or the U.K., largely thanks to the fact that a U.S.-based user has a higher online purchasing power compared to the rest of the world,” Danchev wrote in a blog post. [See also: Botnets: What They Are, and How They Threaten Your Computer ]
The costs really become clear when Danchev points out the cost of 10,000 U.S.- based zombie computers — $1,000, or 10 zombies per dollar. The same size World Mix botnet goes for $200.