Inside The Mind Of Cyber Criminals

There are some common misperceptions that security professionals have about cybercrime and the people who do it.

Information sharing amongst security specialists is crucial; in the eyes of a criminal, no company is unique. As a rule of thumb, perpetrators will initially cast a wide net and move downstream toward the easiest prey. It’s more likely to become a victim via common attack vector, rather than to experience a highly sophisticated and tailored attack.

On the other hand, security specialists should never underestimate the determination of an attacker. Highly valuable and quickly sold on underground information such as payment, healthcare, and personally identifiable records, as well as sensitive M&A information, must be identified as a targeted asset, quarantined, and stored encrypted. 

The actionable contingency plan must be rehearsed and quickly activated in the case of a breach including a clear response strategy if extortion is attempted. Security professionals must be aware of upcoming threats and successful mitigation practices when establishing a robust and secure network, making sure the proper data backups are in place.

What are some common misperceptions that security pros have about cyber-crime and the people who do it?

The common misperception about cyber criminals we often observe is that it is assumed that illicit actors have diverse skills and experience, allowing them to initiate a wide range of attacks, subsequently earning a hefty amount of money as a result. In reality, the current underground has shifted toward mass plug-and-play automated services, offering the opportunity to participate in illicit activities to a broad number of novice members. Recorded Future has recently identified a survey, conducted among members of a closed underground community, revealing that the majority of cyber criminals are earning a mere $1,000 to $3,000 a month, while only 20% are earning significantly larger amounts of $20,000 a month or more.

Who are these criminals? Are they part of established criminal groups or one-man shows?

For the most part, the largest demographic of members participating in underground communities are lone actors with a clean criminal record and without any ties to organised syndicates. These criminals tend to maintain a stable day job while partaking in illegal activities mostly on an occasional basis. Often these actors are introduced to the life of cyber-crime during their early college years and remain active many years to follow.

A separate and significantly more sophisticated cohort are cyber-criminal syndicates which maintain a strict hierarchy, comprised of highly skilled members, each with a very narrow set of responsibilities.

A typical group is controlled by a single mastermind “boss”, a very intelligent and highly educated person, and includes bankers with extensive connections in the financial industry to arrange money laundering and cash out of stolen funds. 

Additionally, forgers are responsible for fake documents and supporting paperwork and professional project managers oversee the technical aspects of operations, software engineers, and skilled hackers. 

Some groups include ex-law enforcement agents responsible for information gathering as well as counter-intelligence operations.

Team members tend to have strong ties in real life and often are respected members of their communities, viewed by many as successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. The group will often have a diversified investment portfolio and maintain a presence in real estate, hospitality, and auto-related businesses.

Cyber-criminal syndicates don’t regard themselves as ordinary street criminals and rarely cross paths with everyday gangsters, preferring to remain in the shadows and avoid unnecessary attention from both law enforcement and local mafia branches.

However, on certain occasions, requiring the involvement of a vast number of “troopers,” often, related to a large cash-out operations, a one-time project can be launched through a chain of intermediaries.

What types of research do you feel are most beneficial for an enterprise security team?

We have to understand no silver bullet will solve every security problem. An effective security perimeter has to include the combination of:

  • Automated tools responsible for identification of unusual behavior.
  • Alerts on known IOCs and TTPs.
  • Intelligence obtained from underground communities.
  • Response procedures and guidelines.

Direct access to deep and dark web is crucial, but for a variety of safety reasons, might not be a viable option. Hidden criminal communities are not very fond of researchers, and in certain situations, an inexperienced researcher can draw unnecessary attention to the company and put it in danger.

In one of the recent cases, a poorly trained researcher has openly inquired about penetration solutions in newly adopted infrastructure which was tested at a limited number of corporate locations, immediately observing a sudden surge of malicious activity.

To avoid this, we would recommend utilising the help of professional threat intelligence providers that operate undercover on a day-to-day basis and are familiar with all of the complex politics of these communities.

Several providers allow users to research deep and dark web sources in a safe and secure manner, without risking the integrity of the organisation.

Companies also must foster internal security teams, ensuring they are capable of discovering relevant and actionable data as well as stimulating the unrestricted environment, providing the opportunity to initiate counter-measures quickly, and minimising the red-tape procedures.

RecorderdFuture:              Cybercrime Inc. Hackers Model Themselves On Big Business:

 

« Irish Law Firms Experience 50% Increase In Cyberattacks
Snowden Loses In Norway »

Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

MIRACL

MIRACL

MIRACL provides the world’s only single step Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which can replace passwords on 100% of mobiles, desktops or even Smart TVs.

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81 is a Zero Trust Network as a Service designed to simplify secure network, cloud and application access for the modern and distributed workforce.

Authentic8

Authentic8

Authentic8 transforms how organizations secure and control the use of the web with Silo, its patented cloud browser.

CYRIN

CYRIN

CYRIN® Cyber Range. Real Tools, Real Attacks, Real Scenarios. See why leading educational institutions and companies in the U.S. have begun to adopt the CYRIN® system.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

FREE eBook: Practical Guide To Optimizing Your Cloud Deployments

FREE eBook: Practical Guide To Optimizing Your Cloud Deployments

AWS Marketplace eBook: Optimizing your cloud deployments to accelerate cloud activities, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.

WEBINAR: How to build a secure access service edge (SASE) model in AWS

WEBINAR: How to build a secure access service edge (SASE) model in AWS

Thursday, 21 October, 2021 - In this webinar, SANS and AWS Marketplace will explore SASE and share how organizations can move to a SASE model to enhance security for modern infrastructures.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

Clayden Law

Clayden Law

Clayden Law are experts in information technology, data privacy and cybersecurity law.

Advanced Systems International SAC

Advanced Systems International SAC

Advanced Systems international is a global company dedicated to data security software design, development, support, and licensing.

Sift

Sift

The Sift Digital Trust Platform protects your business and customers from all vectors of fraud and abuse through our Live Machine Learning, global trust network and automation technologies.

Cryptsoft

Cryptsoft

Cryptsoft provides key management and security software development toolkits based around open standards such as OASIS KMIP and PKCS#11.

Watchdata Technologies

Watchdata Technologies

Watchdata Technologies is a pioneer in digital authentication and transaction security.

Techleap.nl

Techleap.nl

Techleap.nl is a non-profit publicly funded organisation helping to quantify and accelerate the tech ecosystem of the Netherlands.

Billington CyberSecurity

Billington CyberSecurity

Billington CyberSecurity is a leading, independent education company with an exclusive focus on cybersecurity.

Censys

Censys

Our customers rely on Censys data to get the global visibility they need of their attack surfaces in order to proactively prevent nation-state attacks and emerging threats.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin deliver full-spectrum cyber capabilities and cyber resilient systems to defense, intelligence community and global security customers.