Script Kiddies Killing The Margins In Online Extortion

from the competitive-scammers dept

Over the past few years, we've been seeing more and more stories about online extortion scams. Some involve the threat of taking down websites with a denial of service attack if no payment is made, but increasingly common is the trojan-as-extortion trick. The scammer somehow tricks the victim into installing a trojan horse that then threatens to delete or lockup files... unless a payment is made. However, in the past, that payment has been on the order of $50 or $100 or so. However, it appears that as more script kiddies get access to the tools to do similar things, the price is going down. These days, it looks like the going price may be only $10.99 to keep your files safe. Who knew that extortion prices were subject to market pressures brought on by an increase in supply? Yes, this is a joke, but the next time you get one of these trojans demanding $50, be sure to tell the scammer that it's way over the market price.


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    TriZz, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    HAHAHAHAHA!!

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH!! Who would've thought that scammers are subject to market saturation....HAHAHAHAHA!!

    *more maniacal laughing*

    That's awesome!

     

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      headhunter, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 8:06pm

      Re: HAHAHAHAHA!!

      I agree:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Definitely one of the funnest and most perfect forms of poetic justice I've heard in quite awhile.

       

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    Todd, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    Doesn't make sense

    Decreased prices can't be caused by proliferation of trojan scripts. For consumers, the value of preventing a script kiddie from erasing your files is a product of a number of factors. In particular, it's a product of (1) how much the consumer values her files; (2) the risk of the threat being real, and the consumer's tolerance of that risk; (3) whether or not the consumer has reliable backups; etc. Those factors don't change when you saturate the market with trojan scripts. Thus, if the average price of keeping your files safe has decreased, it's from some factor other than market saturation.

     

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      Billy, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

      Re: Doesn't make sense

      Thank you for saying what needed to be said. This couldn't be more truthful.

       

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        Bernard, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:32pm

        Re: Re: Doesn't make sense

        Take a look at the post again and note this line:

        Who knew that extortion prices were subject to market pressures brought on by an increase in supply? Yes, this is a joke

        See that last bit? "Yes, this is a joke"

        so Laugh and just have fun with the supply and demand note.

         

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          Mike (profile), Apr 28th, 2006 @ 2:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Doesn't make sense

          See that last bit? "Yes, this is a joke"

          What's really scary was my original draft of this post didn't include the "yes, this is a joke" line... but I added it, figuring that some people would completely miss the fact that it was a joke.

          What I didn't expect was that even after I explicitly said it was a joke, people still wouldn't realize it was a joke.

          :)

           

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      Petréa Mitchell, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 9:21am

      Re: Doesn't make sense

      There probably is a market force working here, though not supply/demand-- it's a convenience factor. At what price are users willing to pay just to get on with their day rather than go to all the trouble of restoring their files, contacting the police, etc.?

      It's an interesting economic question. On a purely rational basis, the users should pay up if it costs them less per year than a subscription to a service that blocks the trojans. I'm willing to bet, though, that a behavioral study would find people are willing to pay much more as long as each incident is really cheap.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

       

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      David Friedman, Jun 3rd, 2007 @ 9:57am

      Re: Doesn't make sense

      "Those factors don't change when you saturate the market with trojan scripts. "

      Sure they do. The more trojans are out there the greater the incentive to back up more often. The more often you back up, the less you are willing to pay.

      Also, the more trojans are out there, the more likely it is that their authors share information about which targets pay up, increasing the cost to you of a generous payment.

      That said, I would expect the major market effect to be on factors other than price--better protected computers in general and fewer vulnerable computers per spammer. That's analogous to the way in which the returns from burglary fall as the number of burglars increases.

       

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    MannyC, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 1:30pm

    hand over the dough

    so remove the network card and format the C:

     

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    Paul, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    script KIDDIES!

    $50? ok, but all I have is cash, so I'll deliver it in person, whats your address? ok got it, just wait for the knock on the door, i might be wearing a blue uniform

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:28pm

      Re: script KIDDIES!

      Ok, sure...

      But really, what type of payments are used? Can these not be traced? This is illegal, right? Can you not call the authorities (not sure whose jurisdiction) and let them figure it out?

       

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        Prankster, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

        Fun Joke

        What about a different approach...why not instead of trying to get the money directly instead link the payment to something easily traceable (paypal account?) and then blackmail that person into paying you money to stop...else they would get found out by authorities and get in legal trouble.

        Sometimes I'm so deviuos I scare myself.

         

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          Prankster, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:34pm

          Re: Fun Joke

          Or better yet, spoof the email that you sent to the person about stopping the original hack and tell them that if THEY don't send you money then they'll get caught as the one who was behind it all...

           

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            Prankster strikes again, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:35pm

            Re: Re: Fun Joke

            Or spoof that email and...well hopefully you get the picture. How far this goes nobody know.

             

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    Kevin Mesiab, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:17pm

    Satruation

    Market saturation decreases prices because consumers have choice.

    Consumers dont go out window shopping for the best deal on a virus that will extort them....

    Normal supply and demand economics don't work on criminal racketeering. Market pressure is a foot on your neck, not a fluxuating valuation.

     

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    wolff000, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:30pm

    Read the Sarcasm

    Can you all not understand that the whole market part of the article was joking? Perhaps I have too much faith in the Techdirt team but I'm sure they understand how the market works and that it doesn't apply here.

     

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    The Truth Beacon, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    How Saturation DOES affect racketeering...

    Saturation does play an affect though, because as more scammers take to action, more people are being hit multiple times. Usually those people will learn the first time and invest large bundles in security or backups. So the next person infects them and gives the ultimatum at normal price, but the victim scoffs it and just restores a backup. This forces the scammer to either reduce their prices to a low enough level that the victim just says oh well to avoid the hastle, or they have to find new targets which isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

    So Saturation in this scenario does play part of the scheme.

     

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    Kevin Mesiab, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 3:06pm

    Joke

    Of course we know its a joke, but we can't pass up an opportunity to mastur... err, pontificate.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 3:24pm

    maybe script kiddies can lower the average price. theyre willing to work for cheaper, since they live with their parents. there is some optimal price for this particular act of extortion... if you ask for too much, people will risk you zapping their files. Kids are more likely to be enticed by smaller amounts of money, when feeling out the market, simply because they dont need as much money as whichever hypothetical people are doing this professionally.

     

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    Ponder, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Dam, now I know why the money isn't coming in like it used to!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 4:32pm

    Looks like the end of the Mentor's words "...afer all we're all alike" applies to these SK's as well. Kids these days, it's not enough to get pimples, and be denied sex for the rest of your life that you've got to ask for low amounts of money to pay for their acne medication. Poor bastards.

     

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    kurt wismer, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 5:11pm

    the market price for your data is lower than you t

    just an FYI, Krotten.N (http://www.viruslist.com/en/viruses/encyclopedia?virusid=99185) only demands about $5... definitely a bargain...

     

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    Cletus, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:01am

    Screw All That

    You know, there's an even better solution: Switch to linux, and get and ids! That way, market saturation won't be issue, you can just keep your pc safe and not have to worry about any viruses!!!

     

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    www.Smut101.com, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 11:14am

    HA

    Thats why you back your files up.. I wouldnt pay them 1 doller.. Its called Re-Format C:

    ;)

     

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    jj, Jun 1st, 2006 @ 5:36pm

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    This is too stupid!

     

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    lay person, Jul 14th, 2006 @ 2:05pm

    Blahhhhh

    Well...just reformat the kiddie and turn it into a doggie.

     

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    lay person, Apr 29th, 2007 @ 9:36am

    Now have reached Craigslist

     

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    CowboyNeal, Jul 5th, 2007 @ 7:42pm

    Craigslist extortion

     

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