- Want To Be “Liked”? There’s A Virus For That (ZeroHedge, Aug 18, 2013):
There was a time when the shadier online “element” was mostly interested in procuring credit card numbers, usually from Eastern European sources, in order to turn a quick buck. However, over time, interest in credit card fraud declined and according to RSA the going rate for 1000 credit card numbers has now dropped to a mere $6. What has taken the place of monetary online fraud, is artificial “likability” and “popularity.” Reuters reports that with the rise of social networking, instead of obtaining credit card numbers, hackers have used their computer skills to create and sell false endorsements – such as “likes” and “followers” – that purport to come from users of Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, LinkedIn and other popular websites. This can be seen in the costs charged by “service” providers: 1,000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $15, while 1,000 Instagram “likes” cost $30. It is likely that the going rates for fake popularity on other online social networks, FaceBook and Twitter is comparable.
In other words, being “liked” and “followed” online – traditionally an indication of influence, importance and power – has become more important than having instant access to liquidity, and naturally, since there is demand for online popularity shortcuts, there is also supply.
Enter Zeus: a computer virus that was once widely used to steal credit card numbers, has now been modified to create bogus likes that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual.
In short: marketing and self-promotion is now the most impotant gray market commodity on the internet.
These fake “likes” are sold in batches of 1,000 on Internet hacker forums, where cyber criminals also flog credit card numbers and other information stolen from PCs. According to RSA, 1,000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $15 and 1,000 Instagram “likes” go for $30, whereas 1,000 credit card numbers cost as little as $6.