Russian Business Network
The Russian Business Network (commonly abbreviated as RBN) is a multi-faceted cybercrime organization, specializing in and in some cases monopolizing personal identity theft for resale. It is the originator of MPack and an alleged operator of the now defunct Storm botnet.
The RBN, which is notorious for its hosting of illegal and dubious businesses, originated as an Internet service provider for child pornography, phishing, spam, and malware distribution physically based in St. Petersburg, Russia. By 2007, it developed partner and affiliate marketing techniques in many countries to provide a method for organized crime to target victims internationally.
Initially, much of its activity was legitimate. But apparently the founders soon discovered that it was more profitable to host illegitimate activities and started hiring its services to criminals.
The RBN has been described by VeriSign as "the baddest of the bad". It offers web hosting services and internet access to all kinds of criminal and objectionable activities, with individual activities earning up to $150 million in one year. Businesses that take active stands against such attacks are sometimes targeted by denial of service attacks originating in the RBN network. RBN has been known to sell its services to these operations for $600 per month.
The business is difficult to trace. It is not a registered company, and its domains are registered to anonymous addresses. Its owners are known only by nicknames. It does not advertise, and trades only in untraceable electronic transactions.
One increasingly known activity of the RBN is delivery of exploits through fake anti-spyware and anti-malware, for the purposes of PC hijacking and personal identity theft. McAfee SiteAdvisor tested 279 “bad” downloads from malwarealarm.com, mentioned in the Dancho Danchev referenced article, and found that MalwareAlarm is an update of the fake anti-spyware Malware Wiper. The user is enticed to use a “free download” to test for spyware or malware on their PC; MalwareAlarm then displays a warning message of problems on the PC to persuade the unwary web site visitor to purchase the paid version. In addition to MalwareAlarm, numerous instances of rogue software is linked to and hosted by the RBN.
According to a since closed Spamhaus report, RBN is “Among the world's worst spammer, malware, phishing and cybercrime hosting networks. Provides 'bulletproof hosting', but is probably involved in the crime too”. Another Spamhaus report states, "Endless Russian/Ukrainian funded cybercrime hosting [at this network]." October 13, 2007, RBN was the subject of a Washington Post article, in which Symantec and other security firms claim RBN provides hosting for many illegal activities, including identity theft and phishing.
It has been alleged that the RBN's leader and creator, a 24-year-old known as Flyman, is the nephew of a powerful and well-connected Russian politician. Flyman is alleged to have turned the RBN towards its criminal users. In light of this, it is entirely possible that past cyber-terrorism activities, such as the denial of service attacks on Georgia and Azerbaijan in August 2008, may have been co-ordinated by or out-sourced to such an organization. Although this is currently unproven, intelligence estimates suggest this may be the case.
- "RBNexploit.com". CyberDefcon / Jart Armin. Retrieved 2007-2010. Check date values in:
- SANS Internet Storm Center; Cooperative Network Security Community - Internet Security - isc
- Topical Research Reports - Security Intelligence from VeriSign, Inc
- Brian Krebs (2007-10-13). "Shadowy Russian Firm Seen as Conduit for Cybercrime". Washington Post.
- Warren, Peter (2007-11-15). "Hunt for Russia's web criminals". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- "A walk on the dark side". The Economist. 2007-09-30.
- "Cybergang raises fear of new crime wave". timesonline.co.uk.
- "Mind Streams of Information Security Knowledge: The Russian Business Network". Dancho Danchev's Blog. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
- "malwarealarm .com rating by McAfee SiteAdvisor".
- "RBN – The Top 20, fake anti-spyware and anti-malware Tools". rbnexploit.blogspot.com. Retrieved October 2007.
- "SBL64875". Spamhaus.org. Retrieved January 2010.
- Krebs, Brian. "Shadowy Russian Firm Seen as Conduit for Cybercrime". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- "RBN IPs". EmergingThreats.net blacklist. Retrieved November 2012.
- RBN-Georgia cyberwarfare (rbnexploit.blogspot.com - blog)
- "The hunt for Russia's web crims". The Age (Melbourne). 2007-12-13.
- Spamhaus – Rokso listing and description of RBN activities
- RBN Study - bizeul org - PDF
- Shadowserver - RBN as RBusiness Network AS40898 - Clarifying the guesswork of Criminal Activity - PDF