Cyber criminals are setting up 'affiliate networks' of skills to better combine talents in bypassing gateways and anti-virus and improve their malware overall.

Speaking to SC Magazine, Webroot security blogger Dancho Danchev said that there is consolidation in cyber crime as spammers and phishers are working together to form relationships 'that is better than the good guys'. This is allowing for better monetisation as per-infection cash is earned and infection rates are higher due to a better quality of malware.

He said: “Someone sets up an affiliate network and sends spam and phishing messages to make money and gather hundreds of hosts, but collectively it is much better than the good guys as they can earn by the success. They also share intelligence so the quality assurance is better.

“The managed services are offering exploits in Javascript, iFrames, Microsoft, Excel and encryption of services. You can send a file, they will encrypt it for you, scan it and test is against five or six anti-virus vendors and make it undetectable.”

Danchev said that the first affiliate network was seen in 2008 and the services have improved since then as they have become more automated. “It is easier to be a cyber criminal in 2012 than it was in 2011 as this offers a managed service,” he said.

“Personally, I think cyber criminals are one step ahead of our industry and are aware of the latest technologies.”

Danchev also said that there is no affiliate network for Macs as yet and said that there is affiliate networks for pharmaceutical spam, manufacturing networks and software and often there can be eight different networks for infected PCs.