Hackers used to be solitary. Like the guy that watches creepy late-night movies or the woman that sets in the park and feeds the pigeons. A pastime spent alone with only the glow of the screen for company. The world of hacking is changing. It is becoming more organized and structured according to cybercrime experts. With sophisticated and specialized markets that deal with the tools and equipment of cybercrime, some websites have become the Walmart of the hacking world.
Black markets for hacking tools and services has expanded. The number of sites for hacking’s byproducts like intercepted credit card numbers is growing as well. The result of this growth is a greater threat to business, governments as well as individuals.
The retail behemoth, Target, made the news in December. Data from over 35 million credit and debit cards from over 65 million users were hijacked. In 48 hours, that data showed up — and was ready to buy — on the black market. Apparently even some drug cartels are hanging up their business for a quick change to cybercrime. Lillian Ablon, analyst at RAND, points out that in some regards, cybercrime can be more profitable and come with less risk than the drug trade.
Exploit kits, software that create and manage systems attacks, botnets a network of undermined computers remotely managed and hacking-for-hire are just a few of the products and services that can be seen during a casual virtual stroll through a virtual store of cybercrime.
One of the largest changes between cybercriminals today and those of even 10 years ago is their level of flexibility and refinement. Even as individuals and businesses have strengthened their computer networks, cyber-crooks have been able to adapt and continue business-as-usual. RAND predicts that there will be increased activity within what it calls “darknets.” Increased checking and vetting of people allowed to access the cybercrime sites. Also expected is more use of Bitcoin, a crypto-currency as well. With a black-market place like these, the ability of cybercriminals to attack, more than likely, will outstrip the resources to guard against attacks.
As businesses become more connected, more points for attack will present themselves. With a wider choice of penetration points opening up, the range of opportunities for cyber-criminals and hackers will grow. Exploitation of social networks and devices will increase and there will be more hacking-for-hire services.
While the experts disagree on which segment — business, government or individuals — will be the most hit by the black market’s grown, they all agree that everyone should be making sure their security systems are in place, working and up-to-date.