Cyber Black Markets Give Broad Access to Sophisticated Malware Tools
The tools and services needed to compromise networks and steal data have become a major market, and an increasingly sophisticated one, two studies find.Online black markets for cyber-crime tools and stolen data have become more sophisticated, allowing even the least technical would-be cyber-criminals to gain access to complex software and sell their illicit gains, according to two reports on the underground economy. In a report published on March 25, three researchers from RAND, a nonprofit research organization, surveyed the current state of black markets and found that the sale of increasingly sophisticated attack tools will make it harder for defenders to keep up with attackers. In addition, the markets' exodus to the "dark Web," described as anonymized locations on the Internet, will make it harder for law enforcement agencies to take down the cyber-crime sites. "These markets are empowering cyber-crime and cyber-criminals," Lillian Ablon, lead author of the study and an information systems analyst at RAND, told eWEEK. "It is super easy to find where to buy these exploit kits or credit cards, and these markets are incredibly resilient to takedown by law enforcement." Law enforcement has successfully shut down several credit-card—or carder—markets as well as the Silk Road marketplace, which—along with drugs—sold stolen credit and debit card numbers, exploit kits, attack tools and fake identification. In many cases, cyber-criminals have just relaunched the sites, or similar sites, and moved them to the dark Web, where the exact locations of the servers on which sites are hosted are hidden by anonymizing proxy servers and networks, such as the Tor network.
With the arrest of the author of the popular Blackhole exploit kit in Russia, the market has opened up to a large variety of other software programs for facilitating the infection and control of computers. Exploit kits such as Whitehole, Eleonore and Cool sell anywhere from hundreds of dollars for the software to $10,000 per month for an exploit service, according to the report.