The Anatomy of a Hack: The Internet Age of Criminals – Part 3

In recent weeks I’ve been talking about the millennial mobster and the reality that savvy international businesses make up the majority of cybercriminals. This blog post is the final week of background information before we jump into the practical side of managing your cyber risk in this series called The Anatomy of a Hack.

Specialization in the Dark Value Chain
Cybercriminals work in specific niches like DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) or ransomware. One ransomware, aptly named Satan, is available in the Dark Web, and is an excellent example of specialization in the dark value chain to would be criminals.

Satan is touted as a free ransomware kit. Crooks need only register on the developer’s site to start using it. You don’t have to be very technically savvy because Satan provides tips and resources for the affiliates to further distribute the malware. The developer also has specific guides on how to deploy and update the ransomware. You can sign up for Satan just like you would any other software system on the web like Netflix or Gmail.

Quality Improvement and Innovation
Cybercriminals, like any other business, take quality improvement seriously. They reinvest in their company by improving on their tools and services using the money they steal to stay innovative in their service offering.

The Satan ransomware is innovative for many reasons including the way the decryption keys are managed. Many creators of ransomware do a poor job with key management, which allows the “good guys” to develop decryption programs. Satan’s key management is so good that there is currently no way to do that right now.

Marketing Savvy – Multiple Price Points
Cybercriminals sometimes use revenue sharing as a pricing structure for their services. Affiliates can purchase services to build their own malware attack and keep 70% of the ransom. Ironically, this is the same split that you get if you sell an app on Apple’s App Store. Cybercriminals use the same techniques and strategies that other online businesses are using successfully.

Others providers advertise multiple levels of monthly subscription fees. Just like mainstream online subscription services. Be aware that this is what the criminals are doing and it’s incredibly effective.

Cybercrime is Big Business
Whether the criminals are purchasing ransomware software or a distributed denial of service attack, they can rent all the technology they need to deploy the attacks again and again.

Now that I’ve covered what’s driving the engine behind cybercrime, we need to discuss what we can do to deal with this reality. Join me next week as we begin to learn about defending ourselves from these criminals.

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