The partnerka - what is it, and why should you care?

Dmitry Samosseiko Sophos

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's in Russia, where they form a booming business, yet exist in other geographies 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 show 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.


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