Measuring and Disrupting the Malware Distribution Economy: An Interdisciplinary Approach

In only a few decades, the distribution of malicious software (malware) has undertaken a radical and impressive transformation. What was initially a complex task, which was primarily motivated by political agendas or social standpoints, and only achievable by highly skilled hackers, is now a profitable and completely outsourceable industry in which the average computer user can operate. All that they really require is the desire and drive to make an illicit profit. Long story short, malware is now big business.

My doctoral thesis combines information security and crime science approaches to studying the malware delivery ecosystem, analysing current mitigation strategies and their effectiveness, and exploring better countermeasures that can help police this underground economy. Whether it be identifying and prioritising malware-delivering servers across the globe for effective law enforcement takedowns, or developing automated threat detection and prevention technologies for enterprise networks or the end-user, the aim of my thesis is to help develop longstanding solutions to the malware distribution problem.