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Cybercriminals are not always easy to recognise

Cybercriminals are not always easy to recognise

Rise of the Darknet Is Raw Cyber Criminality, Not Some New Video Game

The expressions ‘honour among thieves’ and  ‘never steal from your own’ have been brought sharply into focus by revelations of criminal activity that unofficially carves up cyberspace just as the old mafia used to parcel up geographical regions to its members.

The cyber black market is now more profitable than the drug trade with ‘cyber-criminals setting up virtual storefronts on the web’ to buy and sell data records and malware.

Highly Organised Network

According to a study by the RAND Corporation on behalf of Juniper Networks and reported by Sophie Curtis in the Telegraph online (26 March 2014) what began as ad hoc individual criminals exploiting the net has now more developed crime groupings that have become active.

She reported that there is something like a traditional market with services available for sale like any other market of innovation and growth. It’s just that these ‘services‘ are stolen, defrauded, scammed and conned from the innocent.

The range of tools now available are enabling even ‘the most unskilled hackers’ to launch ‘elaborate and advanced attacks.

The report states that ‘transactions in the cyber black markets are often conducted using digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Pecunix, AlertPay, PPcoin, Litecoin and Feathercoin. Many criminal sites are starting to accept only digital crypto currencies due to their anonymity and security characteristics.’

National Focus

It seems that focus and particular expertises are centring around specific countries. It is suggested that many:

  • Vietnamese criminal groups focus on e-commerce hacks
  • Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Romanian criminals focus on financial institutions
  • Chinese cyber crooks focus on intellectual property

Furthermore, there is the realisation that many gangs are self-policing to maintain territory with rules and codes of (illegal) conduct. Picture the Godfather movies, but in cyberspace.

Some related blogs on MailBigFile:

Cybercriminals Should Keep Us All Alert, Looking Over Our Shoulders, 22 October 2013

Three New Internet Dangers Should Set Alarm Bells Ringing, 17 December 2013

Hackers in Smart Suits Seem to Be in a Different League from Ordinary Blaggers, 5 August 2013

One Man’s Mission to Save the Internet World From Basic Security Failings, 2 July 2013

Snoopers’ Charter Stirs Up the Controversy All Over Again, 19 June 2013

In Cybercrime Defence, You’re Only As Good As Your Attackers’ Last Attempt, 17 June 2013

No Green Credentials for Computer Scammers and Internet Pirates, 23 January 2013

Cyber Attack in the UK Set to Be the Biggest Growth Industry, 21 January 2013

The Darknet

It is all giving rise to the term ‘darknet’ as the war against it is stepped up. RAND have said that as ‘greater encryption, obfuscation and anonymisation techniques are employed’ so access will be restricted to the ‘most sophisticated parts of the black market.’

Suspicion and paranoia are features of criminality. Nobody can feel truly safe, completely at ease. They cannot really trust each other. And we certainly can’t trust any of them.

Law enforcement agencies are finding that ever more crime has a digital angle, so they are trying to take the fight to them. More companies are wising up to the vulnerabilities they have exposed. Identifying potential threats and blocking them before they strike is now the pro-active thrust, rather than picking up the pieces later.

Nawaf Bitar, senior vice president and general manager, security business, Juniper Networks told Curtis: ‘By disrupting the economics of hacking we can break the value chains that drive successful attacks. We must never lose the moral high ground, however, so we cannot go on the offensive and hack back, but we can no longer remain passive.’

Bitar reckoned that ‘using forms of active defense such as intrusion deception we can identify, thwart and frustrate attackers. Active defense is a promising and exciting approach for addressing the rapidly evolving threat landscape.’


An alternative discussion of the RAND report is by Violet Blue for Zero Day.

Blue said: ‘RAND Corporation’s new report Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data is both a cabinet of curiosities for armchair cybercrime aficionados, and an interesting collection of observations about the zero day market as told to RAND by its handpicked experts.’

And then ‘To be glib, the report says Twitter accounts are more valuable than stolen credit cards, the hacker’s black market is more profitable than the illegal drug trade, bug bounties may not be all that, botnets are still what all the girls are wearing this Spring, reputation is everything, and loose lips still sink ships.’

What do you think? Encouraged or discouraged?

Image: Lh578