The Dark Web- The business of cybercrime is not unlike a typical start-up business model. There’s a product with a clear value proposition, integrated marketing campaigns, customer support services, risk and rewards analysis, research and development and more. There are even Black Friday deals for criminals on the dark web.
Criminals have relied on the dark web to buy and sell all sorts of contraband — ranging from illegal drugs to stolen passwords and data. Now, with ransomware as a service (RaaS) and other hacker toolkits like malware-as-a-service and phishing-as-a-service, the world of cybercrime has evolved from a hacker hobby into a capitalist market. As long as there’s a market and money to be made, there will always be criminal innovators developing new attacks that are for sale on the dark web.
Here’s a look inside this profitable yet dangerous business world, where capitalist hackers use the kinds of product development and marketing techniques in the same way legitimate businesses do to be successful.
There are many different ways to profit.
Anyone can be a hacker these days, thanks to RaaS. All it takes is a little research and some bitcoin to purchase an email-flooding service on the dark web. In fact, even with the multimillion-dollar success of SamSam, a type of ransomware attack that is carried out by hand, we expect RaaS kits to continue to appeal to cybercriminals, even lower-skilled ones happy to rake in a few hundred or thousand dollars with minimal effort. We’ll talk more about the difference between RaaS kits in the second article of this two-part series.
The money-making criminal cycle is fairly straight forward. Every successful ransomware attack or phishing attack makes hackers money, providing them with more resources for their next set of attacks. For example, one hacker might purchase bitcoin, use that bitcoin to buy stolen credit cards, use those cards to buy more bitcoin, purchase RaaS kits, rake in more bitcoin and cycle on endlessly.
Attacks aren’t always aimed at endpoints. Hackers may also target an organization’s servers and sell stolen information, or even access to the server itself, for a premium price on the dark web. These attacks are devastating to businesses and gold mines for hackers because of the wealth of critical data they hold — which includes anything from personally-identifiable information (PII) and confidential intellectual property to financial records.