Trust lacking within the cybercriminal underground: Trend Micro

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Trend Micro Incorporated has released new data on cybercriminal operations and patterns for buying and selling goods and services in the underground. Trust has eroded among criminal interactions, causing a switch to e-commerce platforms and communication using Discord, which both increase user anonymisation.

“This report highlights the threat intelligence we collect and analyze from global cybercriminal networks that enables us to alert, prepare and protect our corporate customers and partners,” said Ed Cabrera, chief cybersecurity officer for Trend Micro. “This research helps us inform businesses early about emerging threats, such as Deepfake ransomware, AI bots, Access-as-a-Service and highly targeted SIM-swapping. A layered, risk-based response is vital for mitigating the risk posed by these and other increasingly popular threats.”

The report reveals that determined efforts by law enforcement appear to be having an impact on the cybercrime underground. Several forums have been taken down by global police entities, and remaining forums experience persistent DDoS attacks and log-in problems impacting their usefulness.

Loss of trust led to the creation of a new site, called DarkNet Trust, which was created to verify vendors’ and increase user anonymity. Other underground markets have launched new security measures, such as direct buyer-to-vendor payments, multi-signatures for cryptocurrency transactions, encrypted messaging, and a ban on JavaScript.

The report also reveals the changing market trends for cybercrime products and services since 2015. Commoditization has driven prices down for many items. For example, crypting services fell from US$1,000 to just $20 per month, while the price of generic botnets dropped from $200 to $5 per day. Pricing for other items, including ransomware, Remote Access Trojans (RATs), online account credentials and spam services, remained stable, which indicates continued demand.

However, Trend Micro Research has seen high demand for other services, such as IoT botnets, with new undetected malware variants selling for as much as $5,000. Also popular are fake news and cyber-propaganda services, with voter databases selling for hundreds of dollars, and gaming accounts for games like Fortnite can fetch around $1,000 on average.


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