The Partnerka — What Is It, and Why Should You Care?

Technical paper

Scareware, ‘Canadian Pharmacy’ spam, adult sites, comment spam on forums and blogs – we’ve seen these plaguing our web and email experience over the past few years. What links them together? What makes them grow in volume and complexity? Who is behind them? What business model drives their profits to millions of dollars annually? The answer is hundreds of well-organized affiliate networks.

They’re known as ‘partnerka’ in Russia, where they form a booming business, yet exist in other places as well. Thousands of affiliates, each calling themselves a ‘webmaster’, work day and night to drive as much user traffic to their partners’ stores as possible. The stores sell fake watches, fake anti-virus software, fake pills and fake love – the webmasters get their commission, making thousands of dollars per day. This presentation will expose their economic model, as well as describe the most popular Russian ‘partnerka’ networks and their relation to spam and malware. It will reveal some ‘insider’ statistics and information, show the tools used for ‘black SEO’ (search engine optimizations), and explain its terminology and techniques.

We’ll also discuss how traditional email spam has evolved into a complex web-based industry, creating new challenges for law enforcement, user education and for security labs.

This paper was presented at the Virus Bulletin Conference in Geneva, 2009.

Download The Partnerka - What is it and why should you care?

Scareware, ‘Canadian Pharmacy’ spam, adult sites, comment spam on forums and blogs – we’ve seen these plaguing our web and email experience over the past few years. What links them together? What makes them grow in volume and Zum Download

Author

Dmitry Samosseiko

Dmitry has been with Sophos since 2001 where he is responsible for anti-spam initiatives. He is an expert on messaging security and has spoken at numerous user group forums and education security events.

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