Hosting malicious sites on legitimate servers: How do threat actors get away with it?


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January 18th 2019, By Pieter Arntz

How do threat actors manage to get their sites and files hosted on legitimate providers’ servers? I have asked myself this question many times, and many times thought, “The threat actors pay for it, and for some companies, money is all that matters.”

But is it really that simple? I decided to find out.

I asked some companies, as well as some of my co-workers who are involved with site takedowns on a regular basis, about their experiences.

I conversed with William Tsing who is, among others, responsible for infringements on the Malwarebytes brand; Steven Burn, our Website Protection Team Lead; and with a spokesperson of International Card Services B.V. (ICS), the company behind the well-known Visa and Mastercard credit cards. I also sent inquiries to some international banks, but as of presstime, they have not replied. On the receiving end of takedown requests, I queried providers about their methods and motives.

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