JollyBot SMS Trojan offered for use to low-level crooks via affiliate network

The current cybercrime market is all about Cybercrime-as-a-Service – knowledgeable individuals focus on their core competencies to offer services to those who have not the skills, patience or time to make what they want or need for their criminal exploits. Ideally, they also want to most of the risk to fall on their customers’ back.

Take for example the authors of the JollyBot Android SMS fraud Trojan. They don’t use the malware themselves but they sell the software development kit (SKD) for bundling it with legitimate apps to those who want to make money with it.

“These affiliates choose which apps to infect, insert the SDK and distribute them – all the high risk parts of this criminal enterprise,” explains Lookout researcher Marc Rogers. “Jollybot’s authors can sit back and collect a revenue share from these affiliates as payment for their service.”

The Trojan itself is not very widespread. “The malware is only functional on devices connected to networks where malware authors have registered premium rate SMS services,” says Rogers, and that currently means that only Russian users and those from surrounding countries are in danger of getting infected.

“The SDK is promoted through a domain registered through an anonymous proxy services. The site allows affiliates and would-be affiliates to register, sign on and download their SDK. It also allows them to view and manage botnets and monitor their SMS fraud revenue share,” he continues.

The numbers indicating how much money an affiliate can make by joining the JollyBot affiliate network are likely inflated in order to make the offer more enticing. For example, it says that there are over 1,000 apps infected with it currently on offer on Google Play, but the researchers have only spotted such apps on Russian social networking site Spaces.

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