China's Underground Cyber-Crime Economy Grows in Size, Sophistication
While state-sponsored online espionage is most often associated with China, freelance cyber-crime is alive and well in the country, according to a recent research report.The tool is called Social Engineering Master. Anyone who pays the equivalent of $50 can search through a variety of stolen or leaked information and use it to create a convincing cyber-attack targeted at a specific victim or group of victims. The online service is just one of the offerings that have cropped up as part of an online criminal ecosystem in China. While China is well known as a source of cyber-attacks targeting Western political and economic targets through operations called Darkhotel, Emissary Panda and Naikon that made headlines worldwide, online criminal marketplace activity has grown significantly over the past year. Underground developers are not only selling products, such as exploit kits, and services, such as made-to-order denial-of-service attacks, but they are branching out into easy-to-use Web applications and polished hardware hacks, according to a report released by security firm Trend Micro on Nov. 23. Services, such as Social Engineering Master, show that the country's criminals are becoming more sophisticated, Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager with Trend Micro, told eWEEK.
"The big problem these days is not getting the data, but getting to the data that you want," he said. "They provide a tool that gives you a nice interface, so the cyber-criminals can create very compelling social engineering emails."