The Godfathers of the net!

“Traditional gangs have taken the motivations and acts of traditional organized crime gangs, theft and the sale of drugs, guns and stolen goods, to the online world.”  Netizen Lifestyle looks into the rise of the CyberMafia and it’s impact on netizens!

It was inevitable that organised crime would find a place on the internet to operate.  And just like petty criminals who graduated from the streets to the organised world of the American or Sicilian Mafia, petty online criminals have graduated from the bedroom to the ranks of a highly sophisticated online Mafia.  According to a recent report published by Malwarebytes Malwarebytes New Mafia Report. The attraction of  wealth and power has led to the rise of four distinct groups of cybercriminals, operating as the new syndicates of cybercrime: traditional gangs, state-sponsored attackers, ideological hackers and hackers-for-hire .

“Just like, the traditional methods used by Mafia groups, these newer perpetrators of cybercrime have increasingly resorted to fear, intimidation and a feeling of helplessness to achieve their aims. Similar to the mobsters who would muscle their way into a business and make demands, cybercriminals are taking command of computers and sensitive personal information to threaten victims.”

“In the old days, people robbed stagecoaches and knocked of armored trucks. Now they’re knocking of servers.” – Richard Power, Computer Security Expert and Author.

“Traditional Gangs These groups have taken the motivations and acts of traditional organized crime gangs, theft and the sale of drugs, guns and stolen goods, to the online world. Often coming from organized crime backgrounds, they operate in a structure and manner similar to their street predecessors. Criminals follow the money, cybercrime is no exception. A 2014 paper written by the National Security Research Division at the Rand Corporation states that the online black market was:

“Once a varied landscape of discrete, ad hoc networks of individuals motivated by ego and notoriety, has now become a burgeoning powerhouse of highly organized groups, often connected with traditional crime groups (e.g., drug cartels, mafias, terrorist cells) and nation-states.”

These gangs are composed of groups of hackers that have sought to monetize their abilities together and pre-existing crime groups that have been able to co-opt those with the necessary skills in order to maintain their position despite the disruption brought by the internet. The people at the top may be the same individuals leading drug cartels or pre-existing gangs, or new kingpins that have risen to the top of organizations as the internet has grown. In any case, it is those at the head of these organizations who officially keep their hands clean, while many, perhaps the same individuals involved in traditional, recreational hacking, are those likely to be carrying out attacks and facing the consequences if caught.”

“State-Sponsored Attackers: The last three years have seen a massive rise in attacks by state-sponsored attackers with the aim of stealing information and disrupting political activity. Russian interference in the US Election and widespread hacks from North Korea are prominent examples. Beyond the international espionage that typically comes to mind with state-sponsored activity, these hackers are increasingly interested in corporate theft and sabotage. The consequences of such attacks such are only felt months or years later as competitors take advantage of important research and development, or strategic information. Businesses must be more aware of these syndicates than they might realize. Nation-state cybercrime is a prominent issue, and it is not limited to governments of questionable repute. For example, the Stuxnet computer worm designed was deployed by Western nations to cause Iran’s nuclear centrifuges to spin too quickly, destroying the centrifuges, and infecting 200,000 computers. This act revealed the vulnerability of physical infrastructure to cybercriminal activity and according to Guido Gluschke, the Director of the Institute for Security & Safety at Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, such targets could suggest a potential blurring of the distinction between cybercrime and cyberwarfare:

“Hospitals can be seen as critical infrastructure and ransomware is more associated with organised crime or cybercrime activity, so at this point the line between cybercrime and cyberwar begins to blur.”

The variety of groups in this category of gangs will only expand. Protest movements, right-wing, left-wing, liberal, conservative, anti-capitalist, animal-rights etc. will increasingly take their real-world activism online, with online manifestations of real-world protest, such as obstruction and reputational damage likely to come in the form of online attack.

“Ideological Hackers: These gangs are renowned for gathering and leaking classified information on governments and high-profile organizations that can ultimately destroy reputations. These groups act on the basis on moral and ethical duty. Often, they attempt to use the threat of classified leaks to coerce governments and individuals to act in their favor. Avoiding the crosshairs of these groups can be particularly difficult, given the wide spectrum of moral and political beliefs that exist in the world today. Wikileaks was started as an effort to fight corruption through ‘principled leaking.’ For many citizens, this seems noble; yet for a business with sensitive trade secrets or involvement in national security, the release of classified information by unelected hacking groups may be less than ideal. In a time of enormous political polarization, it will be increasingly difficult for governments and businesses to steer clear of ideological cybercrime. In this context, groups at political extremes are more likely to firstly, disagree ideologically with political and business developments and secondly, attack the online presences of those they disagree with.  The variety of groups in this category of gangs will only expand. Protest movements, right-wing, left-wing, liberal, conservative, anti-capitalist, animal-rights etc. will increasingly take their real-world activism online, with online manifestations of real-world protest, such as obstruction and reputational damage likely to come in the form of online attack.”

Hackers-for-Hire: One of the biggest developments in cybercrime is the growth of a highly-professionalized service economy for cybercrime services. The proliferation of the ‘dark web’ has spawned a market for activities such as hacking, malware, and the use of botnets for spam and DDoS attacks. These individuals are akin to paid guns for hire. Interestingly, they operate in a highly retail-oriented manner with an emphasis on customer service and reliability. Many vendors ofer money back guarantees if a service does not perform to the expected standard or if an antivirus engine detects the malware within a certain period of time. The most important aspect of this development is the removal of technical knowledge as a barrier to cyber criminality. Budding criminals no longer have to learn the appropriate skills, instead they can outsource the technical execution of their schemes to hackers-for-hire. Nation-states have increasingly become more active in tapping into these services. The advent of ‘Ransomware-as-a-service’ is proving to be a vastly active and lucrative area for these hackers. Figures from Malwarebytes show that the average number of ransomware attacks detected monthly increased by 94% through October 2017, compared to 2016 data. The extent to which businesses, nation-states and others are hiring or co-opting these groups for sophisticated cyberattacks is unclear, making it difficult to understand the size and impact of this market.”

Information source: Malwarebytes New Mafia Report_FINAL 6 Dec[1].pdf

 

 

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