Lucrative Future Business Models of Cybercriminals

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Lucrative Future Business Models of Cybercriminals

Cybercrime as a service industry is exploring new business models to enable amateur cybercriminals to carry out full-blown attacks with ease and is increasingly posing complex challenges for enterprise SecOps teams.

Cybercrime as an industry is witnessing a revolution with emerging technologies. They are evolving themselves into a service industry wherein threat actors can hire tools, solution providers, and end-users on a subscription-based model. The cybercrime service industry is replicating business models of Software-as-a-Service businesses wherein the consumers can use cybercriminal software or services as a subscription service by paying monthly or yearly. 

“It appears that these ransomware gangs are acting like agile startup organizations. The build->measure->learn model is a method that lean startups utilize to find business models that work,” says Christine Bejerasco, CTO at WithSecure.

The market size for Cybercrime as a Service, Ransomware as a Service, and Phishing as a Service is growing. Because cybercriminals have access to robust tools, expertise, and services on hire, they are empowered to launch malicious threats against organizations. Hence, Enterprises need to be aware of the latest trends and lucrative business models that cyber-criminals embrace to protect their organizations from threats and risks.

Cybercrime as a service is a future lucrative business model for cybercriminals.

Cybercrime-as-a-service business model in the underground market has immense potential to scale exponentially. Gone are those days when malicious actors needed advanced technical expertise to accomplish a full-blown attack. Cybercriminals these days have easy access to phishing templates, hosting services for scam websites, platforms to steal credentials, and phishing delivery techniques on rent. It is a perfect way for cybercriminals to scale their attacks without even researching vulnerable targets. Moreover, the threat actor is not directly at risk of being caught because they do not execute the attack themselves. Even amateur cyber-criminals get the ability to execute a full-blown attack without having a robust infrastructure or skillsets to carry off such a malicious act on a bigger scale.

Cybercrime specialists market their services on the dark web message boards, telegram channels, and discord servers. The majority of requests made on hacker forums are related to hacking sites, selling confidential information, and gaining access to stolen passwords or corporate resources. A report by digital shadows titled “From Exposure to Takeover: The 15 billion stolen credentials allowing account takeover” suggests that the cost of a legitimate corporate account credential was around USD 3000 in 2021. Moreover, if the credentials were of privileged access users, the cost went up to USD 120,000.

Enterprises need to have a foolproof plan to protect their business from the rapidly evolving cybercrime industry. CISOs should consider investing in robust technical controls, spreading security awareness and phishing simulations, and implementing stringent policies and procedures to develop an in-depth defense approach. Integrating robust technical controls like VPNs, next-gen firewalls, advanced endpoint detection, and response tools will help enterprises minimize the risk of Cybercrime as a service to their organization.

Ransomware as a service (RaaS) business model is flourishing.

Ransomware as a service offers buyers in-depth training, reference materials, and malicious code, which empowers the threat actors to launch a full-blown ransomware attack. Such attacks bank on robust hacking tools with existing vulnerability and penetration testing tools. These attackers exploit all the current well-known vulnerabilities and zero-day vulnerabilities. RaaS is a perfect way wherein cybercriminals can collaborate and smartly gather techniques to significantly impact the victim when the attack is launched.

Underground market places offer multiple RaaS kits for cybercriminals to use easily. Ransomware as service providers has legitimate real-time customer support, supporting forums, and reviews to make a very compelling approach to their services.

Also Read: Cybercrime on the Uptick: How Does it Affect Enterprises?

According to a report by Sonic wall titled “2022-cyber-threat-report“, they logged 500 million ransomware track attempts by September 2021, with 1748 attempts per client that month. Sonic wall witnessed a 148% increase in ransomware attacks as compared to the previous year during the same period. The surge in the number displays the ease of accessibility to ransomware as a service and trembling impacts on businesses. 

RaaS offers services that are economical, easy, deploy quickly, and need less technical expertise is a primary reason for the surge in the attacks. Enterprises need to deploy efficient defense strategies like consistent patching, robust AV/VM tools, and vigilance to protect organizations from being attacked.

Phishing as a service (PhaaS) is a growing concern for enterprises.

The surge in the number of PhaaS providers has increased the threats to enterprises. Verizon’s report titled “2021-data-breach-investigations-report” suggests that phishing played a crucial role in 36% of the data breaches noticed. The availability of phishing kits is making the problem more complex. Phishing as a service provider enables amateur cyber-attackers to explore opportunities in phishing because of fewer barriers to entering a network and getting an ROI.

“Threat actors have always been opportunistic with an enviable agility to adopt new capabilities and test them and discard those that don’t work,” adds Bejerasco. 

PhaaS is a perfect cybercrime service industry business that makes phishing more profitable because threat actors do not have to waste their time designing their own email templates from scratch or developing a fake website to steal credentials or payment information. PhaaS providers minimize the time required between attack ideation and accomplishment of a full-blown phishing attack. Malicious actors have easy access to download a phishing kit from the vendor with a comprehensive guide to launch a successful phishing attack has increased the number of attacks on an organization.

Organizations need to ramp up their anti-phishing efforts to protect their business from being a victim of a severe breach. Educating the workforce on identifying malicious emails is a good way to start but won’t solve the problem entirely. CISOs should consider investing in advanced tools to protect their organization from sophisticated phishing attacks. Advanced defense strategies like the zero-trust approach integrated with machine learning and natural language processing tools will assist in spotting the most advanced phishing attacks. 

Enterprise SecOps teams need to track the evolution in the business models of the cybercriminals and make strategic changes in the security posture to ensure their business is protected from evolving threats. 

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