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The Emerging Market of Cyber-crime as a Service
The SRM Blog

The Emerging Market of Cyber-crime as a Service

One of the greatest misconceptions about cyber-crime is that you need to be a computer geek to be a cyber-criminal. The truth is the cyber-crime industry is starting to function like a normal business, with client-side applications and services allowing users to complete tasks more easily, offering them greater flexibility and efficiency.

Ecommerce sites operating on the Dark Web are renowned for their excellent customer service – really! The operators and users of these sites remain anonymous, therefore it is imperative for them to build a reputation based on customer reviews in the hope of increasing sales.

It then comes as no surprise that a market in Cyber-crime as a Service has emerged, opening a window of opportunities for criminals that are not tech savvy, yet still want to exploit the benefits of illegal online activity.

Cyber-crime as a Service is a market with multiple segments which includes Research as a Service (RaaS), Crimeware as a service (CaaS), Cybercrime Infrastructure as a Service (CIaaS), and Hacking as a Service (HaaS).

Research as a Service (RaaS)

The sale of zero day vulnerabilities is very valuable on the Dark Web. Once a zero day vulnerability has been identified, the researcher has the option to either exploit the vulnerability themselves, or they could sell it on the Dark Web for someone else to take advantage of it.

Spam services are also offered as RaaS. For some, it is much easier to buy email lists than build them up from scratch. Some spam service providers will also categorise email addresses by region, age or gender for a more targeted approach.

Crimeware as a Service (Caas)

Malware is sold to criminals on the Dark Web who may not be tech-savvy enough to develop it themselves, allowing them to implement sophisticated attacks. This code has a high value on the Dark Web, and an example of this was seen as early as 2005 when a programmer was hired to develop the Zotob worm, a strain of malware that required an estimated $97,000 per company affected to clean-up affected systems.

Examples of the types of CaaS offered include:

  • Trojans – A malicious program that is concealed within a legitimate file to steal user information or login credentials from an infected system;
  • Rootkit services – Surreptitious code that conceals itself within the compromised system and performs actions as programmed;
  • Ransomware services – Software that restricts the user from conducting further activity until a specific action, such as making a payment, is completed.

Cyber-crime Infrastructure as a Service (CIaaS)

Once malware has been created, delivering the exploit is the next stage. Obtaining the required hardware can be both difficult and risky.

CIaaS provides cyber criminals with the necessary hardware to carry out their attack for an agreed rental price. This method is very convenient because the criminal can simply discontinue the subscription once they have completed their task. Furthermore, it is likely to be more cost effective than purchasing the equipment in most cases.

Hacking as a Service (HaaS)

There are two main categories of this kind of service; password cracking, and denial of service (DoS).

Password cracking services allow non-technical buyers to obtain a password to an email address simply by submitting the target’s name and email address.

DoS services only require the user to submit the website name they wish to launch an attack on. Service providers will agree a fee for the service, which can be as little as $2 per hour.

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