Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar

Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar
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C O R P O R AT I O N
Markets for Cybercrime
Tools and Stolen Data
Hackers’ Bazaar
Lillian Ablon, Martin C. Libicki, Andrea A. Golay
NATIO NAL SE CU R ITY RESEARC H D I VI SI ON
Markets for Cybercrime
Tools and Stolen Data
Hackers’ Bazaar
Lillian Ablon, Martin C. Libicki, Andrea A. Golay
Sponsored by Juniper Networks
The research described in this report was sponsored by Juniper Networks and
conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND
National Security Research Division.
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Preface
Markets are good because they facilitate economic efficiency, but when that efficiency facilitates criminal activity, such “black markets” can be deemed harmful. Criminal activities in
cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets in both the tools (e.g.,
exploit kits) and the take (e.g., credit card information). As with most things, intent is what
can make something criminal or legitimate, and there are cases where goods or services can be
used for altruistic or malicious purposes (e.g., bulletproof hosting and zero-day vulnerabilities).
This report describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have
grown into their current state in order to give insight into how their existence can harm the
information security environment. Understanding the current and predicted landscape for
these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options that could minimize
the potentially harmful influence these markets impart. This report assumes the reader has a
basic understanding of the cyber, criminal, and economic domains, but includes a glossary to
supplement any gaps.
This report should be of interest to cybersecurity, information security, and law enforcement communities. It was sponsored by Juniper Networks as part of a multiphase study on the
future security environment.
This research was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy (ATP) Center
of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and
analysis on defense and national security topics for the U.S. and allied defense, foreign policy,
homeland security, and intelligence communities and foundations and other nongovernmental
organizations that support defense and national security analysis.
For more information on the ATP Center, see http://www.rand.org/nsrd/ndri/centers/atp.
html or contact the director (contact information is provided on the web page).
Comments or questions on this report should be addressed to the lead author,
Lillian Ablon, at [email protected], or the project leader, Martin Libicki, at
[email protected]
iii
Contents
Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
Figures and Tables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
Abbreviations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv
Chapter One
Introduction and Research Methodology.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter Two
Characteristics of the Black Market.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Business Conduits.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Language.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Pricing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Reliability and Integrity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Sensitivity to External Events.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Resilience.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Chapter Three
The Black Market and Botnets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Sophistication.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Cost Trends Over Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter Four
Zero-Day Vulnerabilities in the Black and Gray Markets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Participants and Structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Prices.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Trends for the Zero-Day Market. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Chapter Five
Are Hacker Black Markets Mature?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
v
vi
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Chapter Six
Projections and Predictions for the Black Market. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Most-Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Targets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Attack Characteristics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Contested Projections and Predictions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Chapter Seven
Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Chapter Eight
For Future Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
AppendixES
A. Text of the Black Market Timeline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
B. Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Selected Interviews and Personal Communications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Figures and Tables
Figures
2.1.
2.2.
2.3.
3.1.
6.1.
6.2.
6.3.
A.1.
Different Levels of Participants in the Underground Market. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Estimate of Various Channels and Tiers Used by Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Proliferation and Variety of Exploit Kits Over Time (non-cumulative).. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Botnet Timeline.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Black Market Timeline.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Hacking Data Breaches by Size. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Attack Sophistication versus Intruder Technical Knowledge.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Number of New ZeuS Variants (January 2007–February 2010). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Tables
2.1. Goods and Services on the Black Market.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.2. Exploit Kit Prices Over Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
2.3. Proliferation and Variety of Exploit Kits Over Time
(non-cumulative).. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2.4. Credit Card Prices Based on Market Circumstance.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4.1. Zero-Day Prices Over Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
5.1. Characteristics of Maturity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
vii
Summary
Black and gray markets for hacking tools, hacking services, and the fruits of hacking are gaining widespread attention as more attacks and attack mechanisms are linked in one way or
another to such markets. In the December 2013 breach of the retail giant Target, where data
from as many as 40 million credit cards and 70 million user accounts were hijacked, such
data appeared within days on black-market sites. Other examples of attacks and their links to
underground markets include
• recent increases in the use of watering-hole attacks (where users visit popular, legitimate,
but compromised websites) based on well-known exploit kits available for sale on the
black market (see, e.g., Malwageddon, 2013)
• the growing prevalence of malware inserted into online advertisements that, when clicked,
infect a victim’s computer, and call back to an exploit kit to launch additional malware;
data is then stolen and sold on black markets (e.g., Joostbijl, 2014)
• websites throttled by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks implemented by
rented botnets available on the black market (e.g., Schwartz, 2010).
These black markets are growing in size and complexity. The hacker market—once a
varied landscape of discrete, ad hoc networks of individuals initially motivated by little more
than ego and notoriety—has emerged as a playground of financially driven, highly organized,
and sophisticated groups. In certain respects, the black market can be more profitable than the
illegal drug trade; the links to end-users are more direct, and because worldwide distribution
is accomplished electronically, the requirements are negligible.
Understanding this market in its entirety is complicated by the fact that it is geographically spread out, diverse, segmented, and usually hidden under the cloak of darknets (e.g.,
Tor), anonymization, and cryptographic features. What can be surmised from interviews with
expert observers is that the hacker market poses a formidable challenge and an increasing
threat to businesses, governments, and individuals operating in the digital world.
Increasing sophistication and specialization characterizes both how the market operates
and the types of goods and services being sold. As with any other market, products and vendors tend to be reliable; but the unwary can be scammed or sold products with unwanted features. Methods for communication have gotten more innovative and secure: there is greater
use of encryption and privacy mechanisms, such as off-the-record messaging and digital and
cryptocurrencies. Organization of groups and forums are highly structured, and specialization
of roles and responsibilities is common. Vendors often guarantee their products’ lifespan or
ix
x
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
value, and some track what a customer does with their product—a hacker’s version of “digital
rights management.”
There has been a steady increase in the availability of goods and services offered, from
stolen records and exploit kits to “stolen-to-order” goods, such as intellectual property and
zero-day (more commonly, half-day) vulnerabilities. Greater availability of as-a-service models,
point-and-click tools, and easy-to-find online tutorials makes it easier for technical novices to
use what these markets have to offer. Despite these markets being generally illicit, they follow
the same economic laws and practices as other markets: Participants communicate through
various channels, place their orders, and get products. Black-market evolution mirrors the
normal evolution of a free market, with both innovation and growth. Prices for credit cards,
for example, are falling because the market is flooded with records, and botnets and DDoS
capabilities are cheaper because so many more options are available.
Access to such markets, conversely, is getting tighter. Motivated, in part, by recent black
market takedowns, more sophisticated markets are undertaking more rigorous and aggressive vetting of individuals. More transactions are taking place on virtual private networks and
darknets, with anonymization and encryption capabilities enabled.
Despite increased efforts by law enforcement to disrupt and shut down various parts of
the market—from its financing to popular marketplaces—the hacker economy has proved to
be quite resilient. The market bounces back after a takedown or arrest. Finding comparable
replacements for market leaders like the Blackhole Exploit Kit or the Silk Road may take a few
iterations, but substitutes appear almost immediately as competing forums constantly vie for
market share. That said, law enforcement is getting better for a number of reasons: More individuals are technologically savvy; suspects are going after bigger targets, and thus are attracting
more attention; and more crimes involve a digital component, giving law enforcement more
opportunities to encounter crime in cyberspace.
Adding to the complexity for defenders are the rapidly emerging and highly secretive
markets for zero-day vulnerabilities, which occur in both gray (licit) and black (illicit) markets. Discussions surrounding zero-days have risen in prominence because of increased media
attention and recent decisions by many software makers to pay for discoveries of such vulnerabilities. Ironically, sources of information that were once forthcoming have gone silent of late.
Noteworthy Projections and Predictions
Since the mid-2000s, the hacking community has been steadily growing and maturing, as has
its market. It took more than a decade of continuous development and innovation, the introduction of new generations of digitally savvy participants, and significant trial and error to
achieve today’s landscape, in which experts agree on the following projections and predictions:
• There will be more activity in darknets, more checking and vetting of participants, more
use of cryptocurrencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to
encrypting and protecting communications and transactions.
• Helped by such markets, the ability to attack will likely outpace the ability to defend.
• Hyperconnectivity will create more points of presence for attack and exploitation, so that
crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component, creating a wider range of
opportunities for black markets.
Summary
xi
• Exploitation of social networks and mobile devices will continue to grow.
• There will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings, and brokers.
Experts disagree, however, on who will be most affected by the growth of the black
market (e.g., small or large businesses, individuals), what products will be on the rise (e.g.,
fungible goods, such as data records and credit card information; nonfungible goods, such as
intellectual property), or which types of attacks will be most prevalent (e.g., persistent, targeted
attacks; opportunistic, mass “smash-and-grab” attacks).
For Further Research
The harmful effects of black markets on cybersecurity suggest the need for options to suppress such market activity—without which, very little is likely to change. The search for such
options raises several questions. How should security technologies and law enforcement shift
their approaches to thwart the rise of the markets? How might bug bounty programs or better
pay and incentives from legitimate companies shift transactions and talent off the illicit markets into legitimate business operations? Would it be worthwhile to establish fake credit card
shops, fake forums, and sites for counterfeit goods that would flood the market with fake items?
Would more vigorous law enforcement help? Would international cooperation be required
to put muscle behind today’s law enforcement? Should there be mandates for encryption on
point-of-sale terminals, safer and stronger storage of passwords and user credentials, implementation of “chip and PIN” (personal identification number) in the United States? If companies
do not comply, would making them liable for data breaches decrease activity on the markets?
Such questions are candidates for further research.
Acknowledgments
RAND reports typically draw on a wide collection of supporters, collaborators, and helpers in
their creation. We would first like to mention the invaluable insights provided by the numerous security experts at Juniper Networks. Within RAND, Cynthia Cook and Henry Willis
have been wise and patient in their assistance and insight to this project. Our reviewers, Ed
Balkovich and Igor Mikolic-Torreira, offered sage advice that improved the report. Jerry
Sollinger gave generously of his time to help format and edit multiple drafts.
Finally, we are exceptionally grateful to all those who took the time to share their knowledge of black and gray markets, including those who offered their wisdom anonymously and
those mentioned in the bibliography.
xiii
Abbreviations
DDoS
GPG
I2P
IP
IRC
P2P
PHI
PII
PIN
R&D
SMS
VPN
Distributed Denial of Service
GNU Privacy Guard
Invisible Internet Project
intellectual property
Internet Relay Chat
peer-to-peer
protected health information
personally identifiable information
personal identification number
research and development
Short Message Service
virtual private network
xv
Chapter One
Introduction and Research Methodology
Markets tend to make activities more efficient, whether such activities are laudable or criminal
(or, at least, subterranean). The world of hacking can be seen as a market: Buyers seek the best
price; sellers ply their wares or skills to make the most profit. This scenario is subject to typical
market forces, with prices rising when demand is high and falling when it is low. Over time,
good products squeeze out bad ones, and high-quality brands can command premium prices.
Mergers and acquisitions occur, and deals get made between market participants who know
and trust each other. Innovation is constant, and new products thrive or wither depending on
the judgment of the market.
Over the last ten to 15 years, an activity that had typically been carried out by individuals
working alone has evolved to one done by organizations and aided by the exchange of goods
and services among organizations and individuals. To the extent that such exchanges increase
the efficiency of computer network attack and exploitation, they multiply the challenges faced
by companies, governments, and others with information to steal.
During the busy 2013 holiday shopping season, point-of-sale terminals at retail giant
Target were infected by malicious hackers, resulting in the compromise of at least 70 million
customer records, including customer names, debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates,
and security codes. Within days, these customer records started to appear on underground
forums—or hacker black markets. This is just one of many data breaches with the intent to
sell the spoils on the black market, and is a timely reminder that the market for stolen information is very much alive and thriving, as is the market for the services used to obtain that
information.
Our goal in investigating such markets was to understand their character and the trends
in their development. In doing so, we separate what we call black markets from gray ones,
although such markets may overlap. Black markets are organized and run for the purpose of
cybercrime;1 they deal in exploit kits, botnets, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), attack
services, and the fruits of crime (e.g., stolen credit card numbers, compromised hosts). Gray
markets, by our definition, are limited to the exchange of vulnerabilities and exploits, the discovery and development of which are not illegal per se (legitimate companies, for instance,
often pay for information about vulnerabilities in their own products), but can nevertheless be
1
One way to subdivide cybercriminals with varying intent is as follows:
• individuals or small groups: intent is for financial gain
• organized criminals: intent is for financial gain
• nation-states: intent is to monitor, exploit, or attack threats
• cyberterrorists: intent is to degrade, destroy, disrupt, deny, or deceive
• hactivists: intent is for notoriety or visibility.
1
2
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
troubling because they also complicate the life of system defenders. As more news and reports
cover this topic, gray markets and transactions have become more acceptable, although controversy remains (e.g., Egelman, 2013).
We conducted this research primarily through more than two dozen interviews with
subject-matter experts, carried out between October and December 2013. These experts
included academics, security researchers, reporters, security vendors, and law enforcement,
each bringing a unique perspective. We identified these experts through a variety of methods:
Some had written reports, papers, or articles, given talks or presentations on the topic; others
were individuals with whom we had a personal connection and who had experience in this
realm; some were contacts provided by our sponsor. Additionally, some interviewees referred us
to other experts. In all, we received approximately a 35-percent response rate.
Although we sought details, we could not avoid generalities. Many experts did not want
to give details lest they interfere with ongoing investigations, alert criminals to what the security industry knows, compromise current clients of security vendors, or provide a “how-to
handbook” for getting involved in the black market. Almost a quarter of the experts spoke on
condition of anonymity. Where appropriate, we distinguish which views are held by multiple
experts or just one.
Secondarily, we reviewed literature related to this topic, including news articles, conference talks, books, and reports. The bibliography provides a full listing.
The results are suggestive, but the nature of the market means they are not definitive.
Criminals try to hide what they do; their markets are clandestine by nature, and statistics on
them are imprecise. Experts can disagree even on very basic points.
With such caveats in mind, we start with black markets. We review their primary characteristics: their structure, operating conduits, participants, products, and pricing. We also
discuss the role that reliability and integrity play, and the markets’ sensitivity to external events
and resilience. We then touch on two special areas of interest: botnets and zero-day vulnerabilities. The former is one of the largest enablers of cybercrime, while the latter has a place in
both black and gray markets, and has gotten increased attention lately. We then focus on indicators of the maturity of the black market, and what are seen as the most likely and noteworthy
projections and predictions. We end with our conclusions, and include an appendix showing
a timeline of relevant events leading to the current market, as well as a glossary of terms to
supplement the reader’s understanding of the cyber, criminal, and economic domains.
Chapter Two
Characteristics of the Black Market
Black markets emerged as it became increasingly obvious that a lot of money could be made for
relatively low investment. The growth of the Internet allowed like-minded individuals to find
each other and connect more easily, providing easier access to tools and weapons, as well as to
more targets. Barriers to entry were low for those with appropriate access and vetting. The risk
was also low (compared with other criminal markets), at least initially, because law enforcement was ill equipped to track it (although they are increasingly getting more effective). The
slow adaptation of law to the demands of cyberspace has made for a difficult (and often slow)
fight for law enforcement.1
The black market is not so much a market as it is a collection of activities that range from
simple to extremely sophisticated and operate all over the world, from New Jersey to Nigeria
to China and Southeast Asia. Goods and services tend to be reliable (though not always), and
implementation and transactions are quick and efficient. These markets are compared by some
to underground markets for other illicit goods, such as drugs, with the difference that digital
goods carry less risk and can offer greater profit.
When we say market(s), we mean the collection of (skilled and unskilled) suppliers, vendors, potential buyers, and intermediaries for goods or services surrounding digitally based
crimes.2 A marketplace is the location in which a market operates—in our case, it is typically
virtual or digital.
It is challenging to describe what the entire market looks like. It is too vast, has too many
players, is too disjointed, is constantly changing, and, because it is a criminal market, pains
are taken to prevent law enforcement from understanding it. People often only have a good
handle on their own niche, geography, or product. The remainder of this section delves into the
various components of the black market (structure, participants, operating conduits, products,
pricing) and provides some commentary on the market’s reliability and integrity, sensitivity to
external events, and resilience to takedowns. We will paint as encompassing a picture as possible, given the scarcity of available details.
1
Take, for example, the case of sentencing a high-ranking member of CarderPlanet—almost a decade after his arrest
(Farivar, 2013).
2
A few of these crimes include financial (e.g., account compromise, account credentials, credit card data), nonfinancial
(e.g., credentials for eCommerce, social media, gaming), intellectual property (IP) theft, counterfeit goods, defamation, or
takedown of sites.
3
4
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Structure
Hacker markets have evolved over time and now come in many forms. In the early to mid2000s, they focused on goods and services surrounding credit card data. Then, they expanded
to broker credentials for eCommerce accounts, social media, and beyond. These days, some are
still dedicated to one product or a specialized service, while others offer a range of goods and
services for a full lifecycle of an attack; some are “storefronts” that offer many products but not
complete one-stop shopping. Some vendors advertise on multiple marketplaces; others stick to
just a few online forums. Even within single forums or stores, there are different tiers of access
for various products. Some underground organizations can reportedly reach 70,000–80,000
people, with a global footprint that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars (e.g., carder.su,
a now-defunct forum that was dedicated to all aspects of credit card fraud). These marketplaces—particularly the harder-to-access tiers where participants are highly vetted—are often
well structured and policed, with their own constitution-like rules and guidelines to follow.
That said, plenty of the market does not have rules and regulations—one reason experts say the
black market can outpace the legitimate world.
Criminals of multiple skill levels can participate in the black market because targets vary
in their hardness (as far as stealing data is concerned, some say individuals tend to be softer
or easier targets than organizations). Most players go after any exploitable device, employing
“smash-and-grab” techniques, using goods acquired in the more easily accessible channels.
Fewer players are good enough to target specific systems, companies, or victims.3 These more
sophisticated, more focused attackers require access to higher tiers or to in-house research and
development (R&D) for the most advanced tools and expertise. Those who would carry out
targeted attacks may explore peer-to-peer solicitations rather than the more open public forums
or chat channels to acquire their desired goods and services. But players of various skill levels
often support one another. For example, highly skilled players, through a breach, may capture
IP along with data or account credentials. They may then sell the IP to those who deal in corporate espionage, and the data and credentials to other, potentially less-skilled individuals for
further exploitation and sale.
But almost any computer-literate person can enter the market. With the increase of asa-service models and do-it-yourself kits (with easy-to-use administration panels), anyone can
create and use variants of similar malware. One can buy credentials, credit cards, and personally identifiable information (PII) without needing to be highly technical. This is increasingly
true for those involved in identity theft.
One expert estimates that in the mid-2000s, approximately 80 percent of black-market
participants were freelance (the rest being part of criminal organizations or groups), but has
declined and is closer to 20 percent today.4 These freelancers span markets and tiers of varying access. But while an individual is good at one thing, organizations (or well-coordinated
3
One expert suggested that true targeted attacks are about 5 percent of the market, and the remaining 95 percent are
consumer-grade. Although this breakdown has been consistent through time, the whole market is growing exponentially.
4
Another estimate breaks down the market thusly:
• 70 percent individuals or small groups
• 20 percent criminal organizations
• 5 percent cyberterrorists
• 4 percent state-sponsored players
• 1 percent hacktivists (“pseudo cyberarmies,” not Anonymous)
Characteristics of the Black Market
5
groups of individuals) can combine many different skill sets to accomplish bigger goals with
bigger returns. Thus, there has been a tendency for these organizations to grow, as individuals
coalesce into bigger groups over time, albeit with exceptions.
Participants
Consistent with traditional economies, the underground market comprises sellers (supply),
buyers (demand), and intermediaries (Ramzan, 2013). Buyers take many forms: individuals,
criminal organizations, commercial vendors. Intermediaries can act as a third party to verify
and validate both products and participants; they can facilitate transactions and safeguard
identities by acting as a middleman or a fence. Participants also occupy different levels in the
hierarchy of the marketplace, and those at the higher levels typically receive higher compensation. Moving up into the higher and harder-to-access tiers of the market requires extensive
vetting that can hinge on personal relationships.
Within these markets, there are often hierarchies and specialized roles: administrators sit
at the top, followed by subject-matter experts who have sophisticated knowledge of particular
areas (e.g., root kit creators, data traffickers, cryptanalysts, those who vet). Next are intermediaries, brokers, and vendors, and then the general membership. Each member can have a subsidiary cell of associated members.
Ultimately, there needs to be a cash-out. This is where mules and virtual money mule services come into play. They are the ones who use multiple ways to turn the stolen credit card or
eCommerce accounts into usable money: e.g., completing wire transfers, shipping goods overseas bought with stolen funds. Mules can be witting participants (well-informed and organized
operations), or unwitting (naïve individuals duped into involvement).
How well players fare depends on their role in the hierarchy, what they sell, their reputation, and their skill level. There is little consensus on which of these factors makes the biggest
difference. In general, those higher up in the hierarchy (especially of the card and data rings)
are the best rewarded. Similarly, the closer one is to the cash, the more money can be made.
One expert noted that witting mules are the “linchpin” of the system, as they tend to be closest
to turning “the take” of an attack into actual disbursements of money. Thus, participating as
a mule can be lucrative.
Figure 2.1 depicts the different participant levels in the underground market, proportionally. It also shows the sophistication and skill levels, and gives examples of various roles.
No one knows (or is willing to hazard a guess) how many people participate in this
market. Similarly, few want to estimate how large the market is, although the general feeling is
that it is large, and one expert noted that it generates billions of dollars, at the least.
The number of people participating in the market is likely to increase because it is easier
to get involved than it was ten years ago. This is due to the greater proliferation of websites,
forums, and chat channels where goods can be bought and sold. An increase in the number of
YouTube videos and Google guides for “how to use exploit kit X” or “where to buy credit cards”
also facilitates entry into the lower tiers, especially for those who wish to be buyers. Sophistication will continue to rise: Wherever there is a necessity to exploit data (whether it be financial,
IP, or something else) there will be highly skilled individuals selling their services. As a result,
it is believed that the number of participants, particularly highly skilled ones, has risen sharply
6
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Figure 2.1
Different Levels of Participants in the Underground Market
Proportion of Participants
Sophistication/skill levels and various roles
Examples:
Sophisticated/
highly skilled
Administrators
Subject-matter
experts
Can be sophisticated
or unsophisticated
Intermediaries/brokers
Vendors
Mules (witting)
Unsophisticated/
less skilled
General members
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Elite researchers
Exploit developers
Zero-day researchers
Malware writers
Identity collectors
Programmers
Tech experts
• As-a-service providers
• Virtual money mule
services
• Spammers
• Botnet owners
• Drop service
• Distributors
• Hosted systems
providers
• Cashiers
• ID/financial data
providers
• Buyers
• Observers
Mules (unwitting)
SOURCES: Drawn from interviews; Schipka, 2007; Panda Security, 2011; Fortinet, 2012; BullGuard, undated.
NOTE: Almost any participant can be a ripper; see text for discussion.
RAND RR610-2.1
in recent years, along with the variety of services offered. The level of difficulty and skill also
depends on the target: In general, consumers are an easier target than organizations.
As is the case in any market, success for sellers often requires differentiating their product
from others. Those who wish to sell hard-to-get, nonfungible goods often require that transactions be done in secrecy, with “double blind” auctions and the use of multiple layers to evade
law enforcement.
Although there is a lower barrier to entry for the easier-to-access tiers, getting to the top
tier and involved in high-level, sophisticated crimes still requires personal connections and a
good reputation, especially for being trustworthy. In the words of an expert who has spent a
considerable amount of time in the digital underground, “once you are able to establish yourself, it can be lucrative.” Additionally, it can be a badge of honor to survive a purge.
Participants in black markets come from all over the world. Originally, key participants
in such markets were former state employees of Eastern European countries who had training
and education but were out of work when the Berlin Wall fell (Glenny, 2013). Since then, the
sophistication of participants in the black market has soared with the entry of a generation of
“digital natives” who have grown up more skilled and can do more things for themselves (i.e.,
they do not have to hire someone else to reverse-engineer programs or to create an exploit).
In terms of quantity, the leaders in malware attacks are China, Latin America, and Eastern Europe; Russia leads in terms of quality (de Carbonnel, 2013). Different groups operate in
distinct spaces. For example, there are Vietnamese groups that mainly focus on eCommerce,
whereas a majority of Russians, Romanians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and other Eastern Euro-
Characteristics of the Black Market
7
peans mainly focus on attacking financial institutions. Chinese hackers are believed to focus
more on IP.5 Recently, some groups have partnered across international lines; one expert commented that, “groups that would traditionally never work together are working together.”6 Of
late, there has been a migration toward U.S.-based actors becoming more involved; in 2013,
almost a fifth of the market was made up of U.S. participants.7 Many U.S. participants are
thought to be involved in financial crime (rather than IP theft).
Business Conduits
Markets must have channels to communicate and conduct business transactions. Not surprisingly, the channels for cybercrime transactions are virtual ones. Channels initially were
largely a combination of bulletin-board-style web forums, email, and instant-messaging
platforms that support both private messaging or open chat rooms (e.g., some common
types include Internet Relay Chat [IRC] Protocol, ICQ, Jabber, and QQ), and email. While
these channels are still used today, today’s participants also commonly frequent online stores
where buyers can chose their desired product, pay with digital currency, and receive the
goods without any interaction or negotiation with the seller. This move to mirror legitimate
eCommerce storefronts indicates a growing maturity of how business is conducted. It is
widely agreed that actors have gotten more sophisticated and innovative in the last four to
five years regarding how they interact within these channels—making them more anonymous, encrypted, and hidden. For instance, ICQ chats have been replaced by participants
hosting their own servers, sharing email accounts where content is exchanged by saving draft
messages, and using off-the-record messaging, the encryption scheme GNU Privacy Guard
(GPG), private Twitter accounts, and anonymizing networks such as Tor, Invisible Internet
Project (I2P), and Freenet.
Participants frequently alter their communication tactics hoping to stymie law enforcement. More sophisticated participants tend to use cutting-edge tools and technologies more than
others. Normally, though, they follow trends. Tor, for example, is a trend, albeit an older one.8
Opinions vary on where most transactions take place (it varies with product, participant,
or marketplace) as well as where the most valuable interactions take place.9 Some channels are
easy to find; others are by invitation and only accessible after a great deal of vetting. In some
forums, members can receive more access and privileges through participating in discussions
or contributing tutorials (Paget, 2010). The forums host advertisements, but actual transactions generally take place using encrypted and private messaging, locked-down social media
5
Note that many other countries are included in the black market; only a few are mentioned here.
6
For example, one Vietnamese group partnered with Nigerians on a fraud scheme involving stolen eCommerce accounts.
In another case, Colombians set up money-laundering “villages” in China.
7
In the 2006–2007 timeframe, the majority of participants were from Russia, with the United States only a small representation. In 2013, almost a fifth of the market was U.S.-based, ranked third behind Ukraine and Romania.
8
Here is one case where, in our interview, an expert did not want to describe a newer trend, for fear of tipping the hand
of security vendors or law enforcement investigations.
9
Some see forums “like a Craigslist—no one knows anything; it is just a bunch of idiots talking,” where goods that exist
in the forums are those that have already been harvested and are just the leftovers. Others say the tools are available in the
more restricted, highly vetted forums, whereas data are more publicly available.
8
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
accounts, or shared email. The evolution of accessing and interacting with the channels has
been dictated by available technology. Before the appearance of the iPhone, there was very little
proliferation of mobile platforms and devices with which communications and transactions
could be completed anywhere, anytime. The progression of communications tools has grown
with the proliferation of technology, and it will continue to be this way.
Channels and tiers are correlated. The black market has several tiers of access, with the
higher tiers requiring lots of vetting before they can be entered, or even revealed. Conversely,
the lowest tier (often the IRC channels) are considered easy to find, as many are publicly available and open to anyone; rippers (i.e., fraudsters) tend to frequent them, for instance. Markets
in the next tier up (considered lower-tier forums) are a little harder to find and often require
vetting before entry.10 Some exclusive forums start as smaller groups where people can cut their
teeth and work their way up into the bigger ones. Often, this lower tier exists in such channels as ICQ, Jabber, QQ, et al.11 The tiers that require less vetting tend to have more financial
and counterfeit goods available than sophisticated malware or exploit kits, which are found in
upper tiers.
Because the black market is meant to be hidden, it is difficult to get an estimate for the
breakdown of market by tier. One expert puts 10–20 percent of the participants in the highly
vetted tiers, and 80–90 percent in the lower, easier-to-find tiers. Of all these players in all of
the tiers, an estimate is that only a quarter can be considered highly skilled. Others maintain
that there are too many variables—freelancers versus organized groups, varying types of threat
actors, etc.—to make a reasonable breakdown.
Figure 2.2 shows a rough estimation of the various communications and transaction
channels used by participants, for each access tier. Note that these are relative numbers and
only estimates.
Language
Although English is the universal language of commerce, it is not necessarily the universal language of this commerce. Some say very little is done in English; sometimes there are English
translations to supplement Russian posts, but the forums are generally in Russian or Ukrainian. There are reports of English-only, Mandarin-only, German-only, and Vietnamese-only
sites, among others. Nevertheless, phishing, spear-phishing, and other social engineer campaigns are typically done in English, as a majority of potential victims know that language.
Products
The product slate is quite diverse. Products include both goods (hacking tools, digital assets)
and services (as-a-service hacking, digital asset handling). Hacking goods consist of tools
that help gain initial access on a target, parts and features to package within a payload, and
payloads to have an intended effect on a target. Hacking services consist of enabling services
to help scale or deliver a payload, and full-service capabilities that can provide a full-attack
lifecycle. There are other goods and services that provide support and ensure the hacking
10
Some differentiate IRC from next-tier channels, but not all. Take, for example, Herley and Florêncio (2009a) and Fossi
et al. (2008).
11
For example, Fossi et al. (2008), and Gu (2013).
Characteristics of the Black Market
9
Figure 2.2
Estimate of Various Channels and Tiers Used by Participants
Relative size of number
of total participants per tier
Open (public)
Online
stores
Invite-only or semi-private (private)
Forums, boards,
bulletin board
systems
Email
Private
chat and IM
Extremely vetted, invite-only (private)
IRC, open
chat rooms
RAND RR610-2.2
goods and services function properly and are free from obstacles. These include infrastructure and cryptanalytic services, among others. Digital assets are the output from the successful hacking or hacking services (e.g., financial information, data records, accounts, IP).
Digital asset–dealing includes cyberlaundering and facilitating the turning of stolen goods
into money.
Table 2.1 describes the main categories of products available.
Although as-a-service offerings have been around for a while, they continue to grow
in popularity as new products and technologies burgeon. For instance in 2004, as-a-service
models were mainly used for adware and spyware when affiliate business models were coming
into play. By 2008–2009, DDoS as-a-service became popular. The market demands more specialized, user-friendly, as-a-service models with easy-to-use interfaces, allowing more participants, regardless of technical ability, to enter the market and get involved—they simply pay for
installation and have a service do the work.
Goods and service offerings are becoming much more creative (often cited as a result of
the increase of tech-savvy digital natives who participate), limited only by the requirement that
buyers for such offerings exist. Products have also become quieter and stealthier. Popular spyware and adware circa 2004, for instance, generated plenty of revenue, but were noisy, and garnered a lot of attention from the security industry. 2009 saw a rise in fake antivirus software,
fraudware, and fakeware to steal data and credentials from machines.
Vendors often guarantee their products’ lifespan or value—for example, guaranteeing a
particular malware variant is good for ten hours before detection by antivirus products, or that
a credit card is good for a certain amount of money—and some can track what a customer
does with their product to make sure “terms of use” are not broken—a sort of “digital rights
10
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Table 2.1
Goods and Services on the Black Market
Category
Definition
Examples
Initial Access Tools
Enable a user to perform arbitrary operations
on a machine, then deliver payloads; can
automate the exploitation of client-side
vulnerabilities (Zeltser, 2010)
• Exploit kit (hosted or
as-a-service)
• Zero-day vulnerabilities (and
weaponized exploits)
Payload Parts and
Features
Goods and/or services that create, package,
or enhance payloads to gain a foothold into
a system
•
•
•
•
Payloads
Imparts malicious behavior, including
destruction, denial, degradation, deception,
disruption, or data exfiltration
• Botnet for sale
Enabling Services
Assist a user in finding targets or driving
targets to a desired destination to use an
initial access tool and/or payload; attack
vectors and scaling methods
• Search engine optimization
services
• Spam services
• Pay-per-install and affiliates
• Phishing and spear-phishing
services
• Services to drive / find traffic
• Fake website design and
development
Full Services
(as-a-service)
Package together initial access tools,
payloads, and payload parts and features to
conduct attacks on a customer’s behalf; can
provide the full attack lifecycle
•
•
•
•
Enabling and Operations
Support Products
Ensure that initial access tools and hacking
services (enabling or full-service) will work
as needed, are set up correctly, and can
overcome “speed bumps” or obstacles
• Infrastructure (e.g., leasing
services, virtual private network [VPN] services, bulletproof hosting, compromised
sites and hosts)
• Cryptanalytic services (e.g.,
password cracking, password
hash cracking)
• CAPTCHA breaking
Digital Assets
Digital assets are those items obtained from
the target or victim (i.e., the hacked or stolen
information)
• Credit card information (e.g.,
fullz, dumps, card verification
value)
• Account information (e.g.,
eCommerce, social media,
banking)
• Email login and passwords
• Online payment service
accounts
• Credentials
• PII/protected health
information (PHI)
Digital Asset Commerce
and Cyber Laundering
Digital asset commerce and cyber laundering,
where appropriate, facilitate turning digital
assets into cash
• Mule Services
• Counterfeit goods and services (e.g., fake documents,
identification, currency)
• Card cloners, fake ATMs
• Credit card processor services
• Forwarding products services
Packers
Crypters
Binders
Obfuscation / evasion
Hackers for hire
Botnets for rent
Doxing
DDoS as a service
Characteristics of the Black Market
11
management.”12 For example, a vendor might label and track each install sold, with the ability
to shut down anyone who is making too much noise by infecting too many victim machines.
Malware for mobile devices has been growing of late, in part because attacking mobile
devices brings in money faster than attacking personal computers. SMS (Short Message Service) Trojans and Fake Installers are the most popular form of mobile malware: They accounted
for more than 70 percent of mobile malware as of March 2013, up from 56 percent in 2011
(Juniper, 2013). Such malware does not require extensive customization.
Some see a shift from opportunistic attacks to targeted attacks, and an increase in nonfungible goods (source code, IP, specific target data or credentials, etc.), while others maintain
that opportunistic attacks will continue to be strong.
Finally, business models and financial innovation have grown more sophisticated. For
instance, buyers can purchase stripped-down versions of a particular software or tool, or get
access to goods for free; if they are happy with the product, they can pay more and upgrade to
full versions—called “freemium pricing.”
Pricing
The black market can be more profitable than the illegal drug trade: Links to end-users are
more direct, and because worldwide distribution is accomplished electronically, the requirements are negligible. This is because a majority of players, goods, and services are online-based
and can be accessed, harnessed, or controlled remotely, instantaneously. “Shipping” digital
goods may only require an email or download, or a username and password to a locked site.
This enables greater profitability.
According to experts, black markets operate the same ways traditional markets do. Easily
exchanged goods, such as PII or account data, are prey to the normal microeconomic fluctuations of supply and demand. Often, there is too much of that product available to sell
at normal prices. By contrast, stolen-to-order, nonfungible goods—such as new technology
designs, details on R&D activities, mergers and acquisitions—can command a very high price,
provided that the right buyer exists.
The yield of a product influences its price. A Twitter account costs more to purchase than
a stolen credit card because the former’s account credentials potentially have a greater yield.
Immediately after a large breach, freshly acquired credit cards command a higher price—
as there is greater possibility for the credit cards to still be active. But after time, prices fall
because the market becomes flooded— e.g., the Target case (Kirk, 2014)— leveling off as the
data becomes stale, or if there has been significant time since the last breach. This cycle continues with each new large breach. Access to botnets and DDoS capabilities are cheaper because
there are so many more options (same for exploit kits). The price of PII/PHI is falling (although
some believe that its value is rising).13
Although transactions can be done by means of nondigital currency, sites are moving
toward accepting only digital cryptocurrencies, with anonymity and other security character12
For instance, different installs of a product can be tracked to ensure a user is not getting more than what they paid for.
For example, if a buyer purchases a package to infect 1,000 machines, but figures out a way to infect 10,000 machines, the
supplier will cut the user off or demand payment for the extra infections.
13
One example is Clarke (2013a).
12
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
istics. Various versions of digital currency and digital currency platforms have been around
since the early 2000s. Popular ones have been Liberty Reserve (until taken down in May 2013),
WebMoney, and Bitcoin. Others include Pecunix, AlertPay, PPcoin, Litecoin, Feathercoin, and
Bitcoin extensions, such as Zerocoin. There is no consensus on which form of digital currency,
if any, might be a clear leader; many digital currencies are interchangeable. Whichever currency prevails is likely to be chosen for its anonymity, security, and nontraceability.
Exchanges surrounding these cryptocurrencies are increasing in popularity, as are attacks
on them. Experts predict that we will soon see more cryptocurrency targeting, DDoS services
against cryptocurrencies, and more malware with the sole purpose of targeting wallets and
bitcoins.
It is difficult to assess trends for different products; product/price relationships can be
quite nuanced and depend on a variety of factors (e.g., brand name, quality of services, renting vs. buying). Although prices range widely—for example, hacking into accounts can cost
anywhere from $16 to more than $325, depending on the account type (Goncharov, 2012)—
similar products tend to go for similar amounts. Exploit kit prices vary based on whether they
are purchased outright or rented for intervals of varied length,14 what exploits are included,
and the quality of services and products offered rather than the quantity of exploits bundled
together. Brand-name recognition also plays a role. Services can involve leasing servers, finding
traffic, creating a personalized payload (or “cleaning”/obfuscating an already existing payload
to avoid antivirus signatures) and setting up infrastructure. See Table 2.2 for (nonexhaustive)
examples of prices for exploit kits from 2006–2013, and Table 2.3 and Figure 2.3 for availability of exploit kits. Note these are just a handful of exploit kits that have been available.15
Table 2.3 and Figure 2.3 show the number of new exploit kits through 2013. A more
concerted effort for trade activity and competition accounts for the 2009 jump. 2012 saw
more “interesting” vulnerabilities found and reported—causing an increase in competitors and
exploit kits, especially those from Asia (Paget, 2010a).
The cost for data records or credit cards also varies. Account records are more valuable—
and hence, more expensive—if more value can be charged against such accounts,16 they are
“newer” to the market (i.e., the account has not yet been closed down by the bank or eCommerce site), or they are rare.17 After a large breach—for example, the 2005–2006 TJ Maxx/TJX
hack, the 2007–2008 Heartland Payment Systems breach, or the recent 2013 Target breach
(InformationisBeautiful, undated)—the market may be flooded with data, causing prices to
go down; one expert cited a price drop from $15–20/record to $0.75/record over a relatively
short period. Prices for credit card data may start at $20–$45/record if supply is limited or the
14
E.g., renting for a year versus renting for three months.
15
While they are too numerous to name here, a few notable exploit kits have included: El Fiesta, ICEPack, MPack,
GPack, WebAttacker, Fragus, YesExploit, Siberia, Neosploit, MyPolySploit, XCore, UniquePack, LuckySploit, SPack, Liberty, Fiesta, Eleonore, MyLoader, SEO Toolkit, JustExploit Elite Loader, Clean Pack, Shamans Dream, Max Toolkit,
CrimePack, FSPack, Sploit25, MultiExploits, Tornado, Limbo, Lucky, Neon, Nuke, Spack, Sploit, Unique, ZoPack, Styx,
Neutrino, Magnitude, Sakura, LightsOut, RedKit, Kore, GongDa, et al. More information on several of these exploit kits
is available in Parkour (2014).
16
For example, a credit card with a lower limit, or a low balance in an eCommerce account (e.g., PayPal) is cheaper than
the higher-limit signature, gold, or platinum card.
17
There is not always a steady supply of all types of credit cards. It can depend on where point-of-sale and endpoint terminals (like cash registers) are found to be vulnerable. For example, it may be possible to break into a terminal in Pennsylvania
during a time when nothing vulnerable can be found in Germany.
Characteristics of the Black Market
Table 2.2
Exploit Kit Prices Over Time
Exploit Kit
Price
Year
Mpack
$1,000
2006
WebAttacker (Do-it-yourself kit)
$15–20
2006
2007
IcePack
$30–400
Mpack
$700
2007
Eleonore (v1.2)
$700 plus $50 for encrypter
2009
Eleonore (v1.2)
$1,500 fully managed by user
2009
Phoenix
$400
2009
Blackhole (v1.0.0)
$700/three months or $1500/year
2010
CrimePack
$400/license
2010
Eleonore (v1.3.2)
$1,200
2010
Eleonore (v1.6 and v1.6.2)
$2,000
2010
Fragus
$800
2010
LuckySploit
$1,000
2010
Yes Exploit (abuse-immunity)
$1,150
2010
Yes Exploit (Standard Edition)
$900
2010
Phoenix (v2.3)
$2,200
2010
Nuclear
$900
2010
Katrin
$25/day
2011
Robopak
$150/week or $500/month
2011
Blackhole (v1.1.0)
$1,500
2011
Blackhole (v1.2.1)
$700/three months or $1,500/year
2011
Bleeding Life (v3.0)
$1,000
2011
Phoenix (v3.0)
$2,200/single domain
2011
Phoenix (v3.0)
$2,700/multi-threaded domain
2011
Eleonore (v1.6.3a)
$2,000
2011
Eleonore (v1.6.4)
$2,000
2011
Eleonore (v1.6.2)
$2,500-$3,000
2012
Phoenix (v2.3.12)
$2,200 / domain
2012
Styx sploit pack rental
$3,000 / month
2012
Exploit kits that employ botnets
up to $10,000
2012
CritXPack
$400/week
2012
Phoenix (v3.1.15)
$1,000-$1,500
2012
NucSoft
$1,500
2012
Blackhole—hosting (+ crypter +
payload + sourcecode)
$200/week or $500/month
2013
Whitehole
$200–$1,800 rent
2013
Blackhole—license
$700/three months or $1,500/year
2013
Cool (+ crypter + payload)
$10,000/month
2013
Gpack
$1,000–$2,000
2013
Mmpack
$1,000–$2,000
2013
Icepack
$1,000–$2,000
2013
Eleonore
$1,000–$2,000
2013
Sweet Orange
$450/week or $1,800/month
2013
Whitehole
$200–600/week or $600–1,800/month, depending on traffic
2013
SOURCES: Clarke, 2013a; Fossi et al., 2011; Fortinet, 2012; Goncharov, 2012; Kafeine, 2013a; Krebs, 2013a; M86
Security Labs, 2010; Martinez, 2007; McAfee Labs, 2011; O’Harrow, 2012; Paget, 2010b, 2012; Parkour, 2014.
13
14
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Table 2.3
Proliferation and Variety of Exploit Kits Over Time
(non-cumulative)
Year
Number of New Exploit Kits
New Versions of Exploit Kits
≤ 2005
—
—
2006
1
1
2007
2
2
2008
1
1
2009
11
13
2010
13
20
2011
16
24
2012
28
38
2013
33
42
SOURCE: Data drawn from Paget, 2010b, 2012; Parkour, 2014; as well
as interviews with Paget and Parkour.
cards are freshly acquired, or $10–$12 if there is an influx. Credit cards acquired in the Target
breach initially fetched anywhere from $20–$135, depending on the type of card, expiration,
and limit (Krebs, 2013h). Experts note that high or no-limit cards (e.g., the American Express
Black card), or cards with chip and personal identification number (PIN) are more valuable,
and can command a higher price, and when the data begin to get stale, it may be “on clearFigure 2.3
Proliferation and Variety of Exploit Kits Over Time (non-cumulative)
35
Number of new exploit kits
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
≤ 2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
SOURCE: Data drawn from Paget, 2010b, 2012; Parkour, 2014; as well as interviews with Paget and Parkour.
RAND RR610-2.3
Characteristics of the Black Market
15
Table 2.4
Credit Card Prices Based on Market Circumstance
Credit Card Price
Market Circumstance
$20–$45
Freshly acquired
$10–$12
Flooded
$2–$7
Clearance (“stale” data)
SOURCE: Data drawn from interviews; Krebs, 2013g
ance” for something like $2–$7/record (see Table 2.4). eCommerce accounts (e.g., PayPal or
Amazon) can be sold for a fixed price, or based on the percentage of the remaining balance.
Stolen credit card data from Europe and the United Kingdom are more valuable than
data from U.S. cards for several reasons:18
• There is typically a delay when a card is processed in a foreign bank, so more can be
charged before the bank figures it out.
• European cards often have higher credit limits.
• Many European cards (with their chip and PIN with signature system) are normally
thought to be more secure that their U.S. counterparts (signature only) and are correspondingly more valuable if they can be broken and put on the black market.
IP is harder to put a value on because it can be so unique, and generally requires a specific
buyer. IP can be inadvertently acquired as a byproduct of an intended goal, or can be specifically sought. There are those in the market who sell services to go after IP for a specific buyer,
and those who advertise IP as a secondary gain, and who may struggle to find the appropriate
buyer.
Reliability and Integrity
The black market continues to put great stock in reputation, at least within the harder-to-access
tiers. Thanks to an increase in takedowns (of sites, groups, tools, or individuals), participants
have labored to loosen the correlation between virtual identities and real identities. Thus, markets have seen more anonymous currencies and encrypted and stealthy communications. More
of the market is hosted on darknets and through VPN services. While this trend does not
affect reliability of products (some say it will make it stronger because only the highly vetted
make it in), it reduces the accessibility and availability of the market. It also leads to much
more intense personal vetting.
The validation of person, product, and payment can all be tricky in underground markets. Buyers and sellers validate each other through reputation, personal relationships, middlemen, or intermediaries (e.g., forum administrators). Sellers may provide demo versions or a
sample of their goods. While it is a black market and thus harder to validate payment, it is also
18
They are followed by countries like Australia, Singapore, and Middle Eastern countries; experts note that most Eastern
European or African cards are not considered to be of much value.
16
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
a relatively small community—at least in the highly vetted, more elite tiers—where bad apples
(e.g., rippers) are more quickly detected.19
Vetting entails either having credentials and getting vouched for by members in good
standing, or proving oneself (e.g., by getting good reviews on a product presented for examination). Being vetted into the most elite tiers offers great rewards. Those accepted have access to
everything they might need. Much of this vetting is based on preexisting cultures, communities, and connections. But the vetting process moves at a deliberate pace; people are particularly
wary of those who promise products or services that sound too good to be true. Some members
know each other on a personal level, having interacted in gaming forums or even in person;
they often speak the same language (see, e.g., Qing, 2011). Some experts say such markets exist
in private (e.g., ICQ-type) chat channels; others maintain they exist only in forums; still others
say they exist in both, with advertising done in forums but actual transactions conducted via
instant messaging. And channels may be open for less than a day to conduct business before
administrators tear them down.
Vetting was rare in the early days; it was easy enough for an actor to just want to get
involved, and be included. Today, vetting is more robust,20 and the cost to entry is higher,
as takedowns increase and as law enforcement and security companies get more successful
at infiltrating the black market. This trend is typical of any move-countermove relationship
between offense and defense. More aggressive vetting, especially for access to the high-quality
sites and tiers, will mean less accessibility for newcomers, who may be viewed as suspicious.
Transactions in the darknet will likely increase, which means it will be harder to get involved
if one is not already, and harder for law enforcement to find these marketplaces.
Product and brand reliability also remain important.21 As a general rule, products and
services sold in black markets reliably do what they purport to do. The problem of product
integrity comes when those reliable goods have additional unwanted “features” (e.g., a backdoor
for exploit kit creators to access later). These types of features tend to show up in the lower-tier
markets. Thus, performing due diligence on a product, vendor, or service is important; this
may require buyers to find a due diligence service or to be tech-savvy enough to investigate
matters themselves.
Because contracts in black markets cannot be legally enforced, they are constantly plagued
by rippers, who do not provide the goods or services they advertise, and are an exception to
product reliability. Rippers tend to get reported and then often quickly removed. Although
19
There is some disagreement on how rampant scams are—but it mostly has to do with which markets and tiers are being
discussed:
• Herley and Florêncio (2009b) focus on the lowest market tiers (IRC channels) and states that there are lots of rippers
in this market, making it a lemon market. (See also Fisher, 2009.)
• One expert we interviewed stated that the markets that anyone can easily find (e.g. IRC / lowest tier) are rife with a
high percentage of rippers. Of the other markets, the lower tier is approximately 30 percent rippers, whereas buyers
in the higher tier rarely get ripped off.
• Another expert we interviewed stated that there are very few bad people; while the networks can comprise several
thousand people, they stay relatively small and tightknit because most business is reputation-based.
• A general consensus among many of the other experts interviewed stated that, “if you can be scammed, you will be
scammed,” wherever you might be.
20
One expert noted that different markets for various goods (e.g. financial data, IP, exploit kits) have their own ways of
vetting.
21
Some say these elements are similar to the noncriminal world, in that there will always be some who care about branding
and some who do not.
Characteristics of the Black Market
17
they can easily access new channels under new names, it takes time to re-establish a reputation,
which inhibits cheating. One estimate suggests that about 30 percent of the sellers (at least of
financial data) are rippers, and the success rate of getting money back after being ripped off is
only 15–20 percent. Unsophisticated or newer buyers are most often the ones cheated. For the
most part, this happens in the lower, easier-to-access, less-vetted tier, as well as the parts of the
black market that deal with credit cards and financial data, where rippers are prevalent.
Sensitivity to External Events
Different pieces of the market react differently to outside events (e.g., natural disasters, revelations to Wikileaks, or releases of new operating systems). Front-page news items are often used
in spear-phishing campaigns (e.g., “click this link to donate to victims of Haiti earthquake”)
raising the number of potential victims. Conversely, unrest in a certain part of the world can
take people there out of the market (e.g., some vendors of credit card data from Egypt were less
active during unrest). This can raise the price of products as the supply decreases.
Although newer operating systems and browsers tend to be more secure against attacks,
their introduction does not affect black markets immediately because developers (and their
kits, programs, and products) tend to focus on the plentitude of older systems with unpatched
software. When the newer systems are targeted, malware developers make sure their tools are
up to date with the latest releases (e.g., can get past the latest antivirus) and can affect as many
users as possible.
Resilience
The black market acts much like a traditional market; profit drives people to innovate and keep
pace with rapidly changing technology. As more targets (users, companies, etc.) increase their
digital connections and points of presence, the market keeps pace. Whatever is new or novel
for the traditional consumer—from mobile devices to cloud solutions and new social media
platforms—offers new entries for attack and will thus have a counterpart exploit on the black
market.
Another facet of resilience has been the black markets’ ability to survive the recent
increase in takedowns, which have little effect on the size or composition of the black market.
As one entity goes down, another takes its place, often within days. Although suspicion and
“paranoia” spike among participants, and some countermeasures are enacted (such as stronger encryption, more vetting, increased stealth, etc.), the market just hiccups and returns to
normal, albeit a somewhat less accessible and less open version of normal.
Several factors explain the recent increase in takedowns:
1. Law enforcement has gotten better over the last ten to 15 years. Those now coming
into law enforcement have grown up comfortable with technology and computers.
Training in the digital world has gotten better for law enforcers all over the world,
making them stronger as an entity. Overseas partnerships and cross-pollination of
ideas have also improved law enforcement—although perhaps more so at the federal
18
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
level. Leadership in law enforcement, intelligence, and the Department of Defense has
accorded cyber top priority and moved resources accordingly.
2. Suspects are going after bigger targets (and thus are attracting more attention).
Since roughly 2002, attacks have shifted from opportunistic one-offs (going after whoever may be unsecure) to attacking companies. Companies, now that they understand
they are targets, are more willing to work with law enforcement, and the public-private
partnership has gotten better.
3. Crimes involving digital goods are proliferating. In 1998, few crimes involved the
digital realm (in the single digits). Starting at the turn of the century (2000–2001),
more crimes were digital (about half). Now, almost everything involves a digital aspect.
Because so much more crime has a digital element, law enforcement has more opportunities to encounter crime in cyberspace and learn from such encounters.
But law enforcement may become a victim of its own success. More arrests and takedowns lead to more media coverage, and hackers become more aware of the opportunities provided by black markets. Further, those already in the market grow smarter as they learn from
law enforcement’s investigative techniques.
Additionally, the consequences of takedowns are transitory. Consider the following:
Liberty Reserve
• Takedown: May 201322
• Other Currencies Used: Immediately
• Immediately thereafter, several other types of digital currencies were up and running, 23
but so far without a clear winner.24
Blackhole Exploit Kit (and Cool Exploit Kit)
• Author / Administrator Arrested: October 2013
• Other Exploit Kits Up and Running: Almost immediately.25
• The Blackhole Exploit Kit was the most popular as-a-service exploit kit from the time it
launched in late 2010 to the arrest of its author (developer and maintainer). In 2012, more
than half of the web threats were cited as from Blackhole (Howard, undated). While no
clear winner has emerged from Blackhole’s takedown, there are plenty of viable candidates.
Silk Road
• Takedown: October 2013 (the alleged chief operator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested)26
22
See Krebs (2013b) on the takedown.
23
See Krebs (2013c) on different types of digital currencies.
24
Krebs compares it to the number of peer-to-peer systems that popped up after the takedown of Napster in the 1990s.
25
There was a quick move from Cool Exploit Kit (a more exclusive version of Blackhole Exploit Kit) to Whitehole Exploit
Kit (Segura, 2013); Arrest of alleged Blackhole Exploit Kit author, Paunch, led to reduction of spam campaigns using
Blackhole Exploit Kits—but other spam took its place (Manly, 2013); Magnitude Exploit Kit replaced Blackhole (Kovacs,
2013b); Neutrino, Kore, and Nuclear Pack also remain popular exploit kits (Kafeine, 2013b)
26 The
operator assumed the moniker “The Dread Pirate Roberts.”
Characteristics of the Black Market
19
• Version 2.0 Back Up: November 2013 (under a different Dread Pirate Roberts)27
• The Silk Road, a marketplace mostly known for illicit drugs, also dealt in items such as
stolen credit cards and other records. Silk Road 2.0 is still finding its footing.
Carder.su
• Takedown: March 201228
• Other Forums in Its Place: Almost immediately
• Carder.su trafficked in credit card and other stolen financial information. Other markets
such as carderplanet, carder.pro, badb.su, etc. existed before, during, and after carder.su
(Krebs, 2012; Krebs, 2013d).
Vietnamese ring dealing with identity theft and stolen eCommerce accounts
• Takedown: 2012 (Leyden, 2013b)
• After the arrest of 14 masterminds of an elaborate ring involved in selling identities and
eCommerce accounts (e.g., PayPal, Amazon, etc.), other (lower) members of the group
stepped up to continue operations (Krebs, 2013g).
One reason takedowns only temporarily affect the black markets is that even if a tool,
forum, group, or individual gets taken down, the vast majority of what is used does not get
taken down, too. For example, exploit kits are not generally proprietary, and other groups can
use them or build their own based on leaked or released source code. In fact, takedowns may
be beneficial for the market as the removal of a popular product allows others to vie for its now
available market share. The decline of Blackhole Exploit Kit is one example of this.
Perhaps another reason that takedowns have not seriously dented the market is that many
countries condone hacker activity that is illegal in the United States. One Russian hacker was
arrested, let out on a technicality, apologized to, and is now connected to the government.
Although Russian officials may have a good idea of what is happening, as long as they can
point to fraud in other parts of the world—especially in the West—they tend to let things
slide (de Carbonnel, 2013). China also tends to turn a blind eye, although there are reports of
cracking down on some fraudsters.
But not all countries are like that. To give a few examples, Vietnam is very helpful, and
other Eastern European countries (e.g., Romania, Ukraine, Poland) can be selectively helpful
(perhaps, on Ukraine’s part, to retain its option to rejoin the European Union).
27
See timeline in Antilop (2014).
28
See Ritter (2012); Warner (2009); Warner (2012); and United States of America vs [redacted], (2012).
Chapter Three
The Black Market and Botnets
From the mid-2000s through today, botnets have been one of the largest enablers of cybercrime. Not surprisingly, their presence and offerings are significant on the black market. In
this chapter, we provide a focused look at botnets and their role in the black market. Figure 3.1
provides an overview timeline.
Botnets started gaining ground in the market in 2003–2004, when they were used
mainly for spamming. Botnets originally operated on IRC and could be taken down by shutting down the IRC server. Nevertheless, the number of botnet variants doubled between 2004
and 2005, when the source code and a graphical user interface for creating botnets became
available on the black market. This availability enabled lower-skilled users to create botnets by
simply pointing and clicking (McAfee Labs, 2009). By 2007, more botnets using peer-to-peer
(P2P) protocols appeared, making them harder to take down because of their distributed control (McAfee Labs, 2009; Grizzard et al., 2007). Although the most common use for botnets
was still spam in 2008 (Kamluk, 2008), and 80 percent of spam was sent by botnets by 2009
Figure 3.1
Botnet Timeline
Botnets gain ground
and are commanded
via IRC channels
Botnets primarily
used for spamming
Number of botnet
variants double (from
use in early 2000s) due
to source code and
graphical user
interfaces available
2002
Spam is most common
use for botnets
190,000 DDoS attacks;
DDoS second most
common use for
botnets
2006
DDoS-for-hire
services begin
Nov 2005: DDoS attack
on godaddy.com lasts
one hour
General
Spam
DDoS
Example attack
80 percent
of spam
sent by
botnets
80 percent decrease
in spam levels due to
increased takedowns,
better anti-spam
protection, and shift
to DDoS
2010
DDoS-for-hire
services
decline
Botnets use P2P
protocols, making
them harder to
take down
RAND RR610-3.1
21
2014
Renewed interest in
DDoS-for-hire services
Jan 2009: DDoS attack on
godaddy.com lasts 24 hours:
increase enabled by larger
and more sophisticated botnets
(est) Botnets used for
DDoS attacks against
digital currencies
(e.g., Bitcoin)
22
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
(Namestnikov, 2009), spamming peaked in 2010 (White, 2011; Kovacs, 2013a). Spam levels
sharply decreased (80 percent decrease between July 2010 and July 2011) because of a combination of takedowns, better antispam protection (e.g., by email service providers), and the shifting interest of botnet operators from spamming to DDoS attacks (Kovacs, 2013a; Symantec,
2011; Gudkova, 2013; Leyden, 2011).
DDoS attacks are another major role for botnets. In 2008, experts recorded about 190,000
DDoS attacks, and it was reported that DDoS attacks were the second most common use of
botnets (behind spamming).1 The pace of DDoS attacks has fluctuated over the past decade.
DDoS-for-hire services began around 2004, but began to drop off around 2008–2009, as
defenses improved. As DDoS techniques became more sophisticated, DDoS services picked up
again around 2011 (just as spam levels began to decrease) and remain popular today (Leyden,
2011). Experts anticipate an emergence of DDoS attacks used against cryptocurrencies (e.g.,
Bitcoin), which may show up as early as 2014.2
Botnets have grown substantially, and that growth has greatly enabled DDoS attacks.
For example, a November 2005 DDoS attack against godaddy.com lasted only one hour; just
over three years later godaddy.com sustained a DDoS attack that rendered its sites unavailable
for 24 hours. This second attack could not have persisted for so long without the availability
of significantly larger botnets (Namestnikov, 2009). Larger botnets have also made password
cracking faster and easier, allowing cybercriminals to perform tasks in hours that would have
taken them years (Fortinet, 2012).
Botnets have other uses: e.g., phishing; click-fraud; harvesting credit card numbers, security credentials, and PII; providing anonymous Internet access to cybercriminals (Kamluk,
2008; Namestnikov, 2009). In the last few years, criminals have started using botnet hosts
as proxies when they purchase items with fraudulent credit cards; by purchasing with an IP
address from the same area as the stolen credit card, buyers evade transactional profiling by
credit card companies. Mining digital currencies has become another popular role for botnets.
The ZeroAccess botnet, currently one of the largest known, deals exclusively in bitcoin mining
and click fraud (Symantec, 2013). Experts note that botnets can also be used to power orchestrated attacks by state-sponsored organizations.
Sophistication
Botnets have grown larger and more sophisticated over time. Early implementations were comprised of perhaps a dozen machines. Today’s botnets employ millions (Namestnikov, 2009).
This growth is enabled by the decentralized ability to control botnets through websites (e.g.,
using Hypertext Transfer Protocol rather than IRC or P2P) that exploit kits can interface with
(McAfee Labs, 2009).
Botnet service models have also grown more sophisticated. Some higher-order service
models sell limited-time access to botnets, or allow customers to create their own botnets based
on certain targets (e.g., Bank of America accounts worth at least $10,000). Another trend many
cite is the employment of dedicated purpose-built servers rented to users by seemingly legiti1
For number of attacks, see Namestnikov, 2009; for second-most common use of botnets, see Kamluk (2008).
2
For example, see Leyden (2013a).
The Black Market and Botnets
23
mate “web-hosting” companies. These are much more powerful than traditional multipurpose
botnet servers, because the provider can ensure that each machine is exclusively available for
use by the botmaster, and not used for any other purpose.
Cost Trends Over Time
Botnet rental prices vary greatly across the large range of products available. For example, the
price for a 24-hour DDoS attack in 2009 ranged from $50 to thousands of dollars, based on
the size of the botnet needed to perform the attack (Namestnikov, 2009). Although many
reports of botnet rentals fail to specify parameters (e.g., size of the botnet, length of attack
time) and botnet characteristics vary widely, experts say that base access to botnets (especially
for DDoS attacks), has gotten less expensive over time (Fortinet, 2012; Goncharov, 2012;
O’Harrow, 2012; Jianwei, 2012). While a more sophisticated botnet may still carry a high
price tag, botnets are cheaper in general because there is a wealth of selection available on the
market.
Chapter Four
Zero-Day Vulnerabilities in the Black and Gray Markets
Zero-day vulnerabilities (“zero-day exploits”, or just “zero-days”) are exploitable vulnerabilities
that a software vendor is not aware of and for which no patch has been created. Zero-days
are thus desirable for hackers, because everyone is vulnerable to exploitation. This, combined
with zero-days being difficult to find and difficult to develop an exploit for, makes them pricy.
Zero-days are most often thought to be used for corporate espionage, or highly targeted attacks
where the only entry is through a zero-day.
Zero-days are not as prevalent as some might advertise, but they are bought and sold
on the black market, if one knows where to find them. What is more prevalent on the black
market are “half-days” (or, as one expert calls them, “1-days” or “2-days”), where the software
creator may know of the vulnerability and a patch may be available, but few users are aware
and implementing those patches. For most attacks, a zero-day is not needed unless penetrating the target requires it. Generally, consumer-grade malware and tactics will get into almost
any network, or “half-days” will suffice. That said, it is generally thought that if one can afford
them, it is always good to have a few zero-days in one’s back pocket.
Researchers have talked about the possibility of a legitimate vulnerability market (i.e.,
a “gray” market) for zero-days for many years.1 Such markets now exist, but are not as well
advertised or immediately accessible. Others advocate for governments and security vendors to
buy zero-days actively to keep them off the black market (Gonsalves, 2013; Frei, 2013).2
Participants and Structure
It is difficult for buyers and sellers to find each other easily, as suspicion and the need to vet are
high. Experts note that governments are increasingly showing up as buyers. Forums on this
topic — e.g., bitcointalk (2013)—note several reasons why it is better to sell zero-days to security
firms (or possibly governments) than on the black market—including the decreased risk of getting ripped off,3 and the possibility of future job offers.
1
Dancho Danchev (2005; 2006) proposed an eBay-like market, 0bay, back in 2005; Charlie Miller (2007) described the
market. WabiSabiLabi started in 2007, with the desire to become the eBay for zero-days (Anderson, 2007; WabiSabiLabi,
2007).
2
Additionally, there are reports that governments and security vendors are already participating this way. Advocates argue
for more participation and more openness with the process.
3
See, for example, Kumar (2013) and Pastebin.com (2013).
25
26
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
There is a sense of distrust about being anonymously contacted about anything related to
zero-days, whether it be for purposes of information or for other means. Unsolicited approaches
are not welcome; e.g., PlugBot (2013).
Because zero-days tend to be specialized for the customer, validation and verification
are a must—and reputation matters a great deal, as with the other parts of the black market.4
The fact that zero-days can be well documented helps intermediaries validate them, and validation allows people to pay serious money for them. As with the crimeware hacker market,
there are third parties that broker the sale of zero-days between researchers and companies (or
governments). Some third parties are themselves companies (Greenberg, 2012a, 2012b; Loidl,
2011)—e.g., VUPEN,5 Endgame (Gray, 2011), Netragard (undated), ReVuln—but not all;
e.g., bitcointalk (2013).
Prices
Little data are available on price ranges for zero-days; more is available about those on the gray
market than those on the black market. However, prices vary widely depending on several
factors. Zero-day prices range from a few thousand dollars to $200,000–$300,000, depending on the severity of the vulnerability, complexity of the exploit, how long the vulnerability
remains undisclosed, the vendor product involved, and the buyer. Some estimates even go up
to $1 million, but are often thought to be exaggerated. Zero-days’ “single-use” nature also contributes to the high price (Fidler, 2014). Prices for zero-days on the black market can also fluctuate based on buyer location—that is, a buyer in Cambodia may pay less than a buyer in the
United States. Prices on both the black and gray markets run much higher than the bounties
that companies pay to have bugs in their own systems disclosed. Some sources say a researcher
could earn 10–100 times what a software vendor with a bug bounty would pay; for example,
HP’s Zero Day Initiative and Verisign’s iDefense Vulnerability Contributor Program only pay
up to $10,000 for exploits (Critical Start, 2012; Bilge and Dumitras, 2012). As a result, some
of those who offer bug bounties, such as Google, have started to increase their rewards. 6 The
rise of bug bounties and increased media attention suggest a push for more responsible disclosure, along with appropriate compensation, in the white and gray realms (bugsheet, undated;
NibbleSecurity, undated; bugcrowd, undated; Schneier, 2007).
Table 4.1 shows a price list for zero-days. As can be seen, data are sparse and inconsistent.
While not stated specifically, it is inferred that these are gray market prices, rather than black
market ones.
Some experts say the price for zero-days is decreasing significantly, and others say they are
getting more expensive (along with advanced delivery mechanisms). A price drop may indicate
higher volume (i.e., higher supply), or less demand (i.e., less wanted, something else has become
more valuable). It appears to be more the latter; that is, the “half-days” suffice.
4
For example, it would tarnish a reputation if a zero-day was purchased and then found to be patched already, or already
sold to someone else.
5 VUPEN claims it differs from other brokers in that it does not buy third-party products, and does all its research
in-house (Schwartz, 2013).
6
Google’s bounty program usually pays $3,000 to $5,000, with some non-Chrome exploits fetching up to $20,000 and
up to $150,000 for Chrome exploits (Fisher, 2013b).
Zero-Day Vulnerabilities in the Black and Gray Markets
27
Table 4.1
Zero-Day Prices Over Time
Service
“Some exploits”
Price
Year
$200,000–$250,000
2007
“Weaponized exploit”
$20,000–$30,000
2007
A “real good” exploit
$100,000
2007
Microsoft Excel
> $1,200
2007
Mozilla
Vista exploit
WMF exploit
ZDI, iDefense Purchases
Adobe Reader
$500
2007
$50,000
2007
$4,000
2007
$2,000–$10,000
2007
$5,000–$30,000
2012
$30,000–$60,000
2012
Chrome or Internet Explorer
$80,000–$200,000
2012
Firefox or Safari
$60,000–$150,000
2012
Android
Flash or Java Browser Plug-ins
$40,000–$100,000
2012
iOS
$100,000–$250,000
2012
Mac OSX
$20,000–$50,000
2012
Microsoft Word
$50,000–$100,000
2012
Windows
$60,000–$120,000
2012
SOURCES: Greenberg, 2012b; Miller, 2007.
Trends for the Zero-Day Market
The market for zero-days (black or gray) is gaining in popularity, or at least in recognition,
which may mean a potential increase in malware and attacks—one study shows that after
zero-days are disclosed, the number of malware variants exploiting them increases 183–85,000
times, and the number of attacks increases 2–100,000 times (Bilge and Dumitras, 2012)—
as well as security vendor and bug bounty participation. This trend could better regulate the
prices, but could be negative in other aspects (i.e., drain the funds of security vendors, cause
more nefarious actors to buy the more reasonably priced zero-days). Currently, there are too
little data to suggest the trend in prices.
It is debatable whether there is more openness about buying and selling zero-days. There
certainly is more chatter about zero-days: There are more news reports and articles;7 companies
that deal with zero-days are rising; and bug bounty programs are burgeoning.8 But one result
of this increased attention is that brokers and those who interact in this market have closed
ranks and become more reticent in talking about zero-day markets. Perhaps the overall level
of suspicion and due diligence have gone up. Or, perhaps, people fear losing their livelihood if
7
For example, reporters Brian Krebs, Andy Greenberg, and Joseph Menn write on the topic quite a bit. Other examples
include the February 2011 leaked email from HB Gary revealing that Endgame sold zero-day vulnerabilities (Gray, 2011),
and Egelman et al. (2013) on the ethics and implications of the market for zero-day exploits.
8
Bug bounties are gaining popularity: Examples include No More Free Bugs, Packet Storm, and BugCrowd, as well as
vendor-specific programs like Mozilla’s Bug Bounty Program. But these do not pay out the same as on the black market.
So, while there is plenty more coverage and press on these avenues, a researcher can get a lot more money through other
means.
28
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
they talk about what they do. One expert said the decline in openness was due to several recent
reports and leaks, and a broker’s clients asked him to stop talking about his work.
As awareness of zero-days has increased, access to them has not. One still needs to be
sophisticated and certainly needs to know the right person (an argument for why more brokerage companies and individuals pop up to help with this) but even those “right people” stay
quiet.
Chapter Five
Are Hacker Black Markets Mature?
Market maturity can be understood in several ways:
• sophistication: The market changes and adapts to the current needs.
• reliability and integrity: People and products are what they say they are, and do what
they say they do.
• accessibility: There is a low cost of entry, and it is relatively easy to get involved, especially in the lower-access tiers—and, once vetted, in the higher-access tiers.
• specialization: There are distinct and customized products, places, and participant roles
and division of labor.
• resilience: External events do not affect the market—or, if they do, the market bounces
back.
Table 5.1 is our assessment of the maturity of the market. Evidence suggests that the black
market is highly sophisticated and specialized, and has high continuity (resilience) as well as
reliability. On the minus side, integrity is imperfect, accessibility is not predictable, and interruptions by law enforcement are increasing in the wake of numerous takedowns.
The various colors depict the general trend for each of the characteristics of maturity.
Green represents a positive trend, yellow a mixed trend, and red a negative trend. In aggregate,
trends indicate a growing and robust market, measured by the number of participants, volume
of transactions, and amount and size of reported hacks.
29
Sophistication
Reliability and
integrity
Signs for (e.g.)
Signs Against (e.g.)
Seeing more of the “hacker concierge”
concept; constant innovation in
tactics and products due to movecountermove
People guarantee a balance on a card
Used to not know whether a card
would work. Now, vendors guarantee
the card for X amount of dollars
Guarantee length of time a Trojan or
malware will last before detection
Constant innovation
to match the latest
technology
Rippers can exist in all tiers. If a participant
can get ripped off, they will, at any level—
although the more sophisticated players
and the higher-access tier participants tend
to get ripped off less
Reliability is high, but
integrity is low
The best “shops” can be hard to find—need
to be in the know; more suspicion of others,
more vetting, more focus on anonymity
Once in, can operate
freely, but getting in,
especially to the high
tiers, is difficult
Specialization
Increase in specialized
roles and abilities, more
customized products
Customized malware, as-a-service
models unique to each customer
Resiliency
Takedowns or arrests only minimally,
and temporarily, affect continuity of
operations
Trend
Getting increasingly
sophisticated; movement
from ad hoc networks and
groups to highly “regulated”
organizations
Has always been pretty reliable,
integrity will continue to be
tested
Extra “features” are common in products
Accessibility
“Geometric growth” of malware,
exploit kits, etc., and consumer-based
attacks
Overall
An increase in takedowns
NOTE: Green represents a positive trend, yellow a mixed trend, and red a negative trend.
Despite increase in
takedowns, the market
bounces back (may take a
little time)
Much more accessible and
available due to proliferation of
technology, but also increased
vetting, movement to darknet,
and use of anonymity and
encryption tools
Has always been pretty
specialized, will continue to be
this way
The market remains continuous,
even with the increase of
takedowns
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Characteristic
30
Table 5.1
Characteristics of Maturity
Chapter Six
Projections and Predictions for the Black Market
Maturity did not come automatically or easily to the black market. It took more than a decade
of continuous development and innovation, the introduction of new generations of digitally
savvy participants, and significant trial and error to achieve today’s maturity. Figure 6.1 is a
brief synopsis of the circumstances, events, status indicators, and trends of the black market.
See Appendix A for more detail.
While our experts agreed on many trends for the future, they differed on others. We first
cover those that garnered consensus.
Most-Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions
• There will be more activity in darknets, more checking and vetting of participants,
more use of cryptocurrencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware,1 and more
attention to encryption and protecting communications and transactions. Twitter is
becoming a channel of choice; Tor and VPN services are finding increased use. Additionally, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s actions with the National Security Agency, more of
society is concerned with privacy and implementing encryption and protection measures,
which will lead to an increase in the number of efforts to break those communications. As
more data are encrypted in transit, the value of subverting machines to get to data will rise.
• The ability to attack will likely outpace the ability to defend. Attackers can be hedgehogs (they only need to know one attack method, but do it well) while defenders must
be foxes (they need to know everything; not just technical knowledge, but knowledge
of networking, software, law enforcement, psychology, etc.). Back in 2004–2005 when
there was less ability to attack, the trend lines for attack and defend were close, but they
have since diverged. Top-tier companies will be able to secure themselves and follow new
Payment Card Industry guidelines (e.g., use of chip and PIN systems), but mom-andpop stores will be hurt because they may not be able to keep up with these new security
requirements imposed on them.
• Black markets will require better encryption, vetting, and operational security due
to the dynamic give-and-take between black-market actors and law enforcement
and security vendors. Participants will employ innovative methods and tools to help
obfuscate, encrypt, or make a transaction quicker, easier to use, and harder to find.
1
E.g., 64-bit ZeuS uses Tor as a communications platform (Kirk, 2014).
31
32
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Figure 6.1
Black Market Timeline
Majority of hackers
are lone-wolf or
small groups of
individuals
Black
markets
emerge,
especially in
Warsaw Pact
countries
Black market is mostly
paper based (e.g.,
credit card numbers
on a notebook pad);
transactions are done
by hand
Roughly half
of data theft
crimes have a
digital nexus,
or electronic
connection
Backdoors and
Trojans emerge
and replace
worms/ viruses;
not widely
available on the
black market
Intrusion of TJ
Maxx/TJX,
resulting in
the largest
data breach
thus far of
~94M records
(not reported
until 2007)
Black market
consists of
tightknit ad hoc
networks, mostly
among the
technologically
savvy
Message boards
for carders and
hackers emerge
(e.g. ShadowCrew and
CarderPlanet)
Œ
Late 1980s
1990s
Fewer than
10 percent of
data theft
crimes had a
digital nexus,
or electronic
connection
Structure
Participants
Products
Attacks
Notable data breach
RAND RR610-6.1a
2000
Identity
theft
booms,
fraud is in
its early
stages (still
humanbased, not
yet cyber)
2001
Rapidly
spreading
email worms
and viruses
are popular
(though not
present on
black market);
examples
include:
Slammer,
Sasser,
ILOVEYOU,
and Code Red
2002
2003
2004
DDoS emerges on
black market as a
service for adware
(pay per install)
Carding market
grows; consists of
ad hoc groups with
very little crosscommunication
Increase of
Trojans in
market
2005
Phishing
attacks
develop;
attacks are
crude, rife
with bad
grammar
and
spelling
Projections and Predictions for the Black Market
Initial entry of
mobile malware,
phishing, and
SMiShing
Dark web
transactions
become more
prevalent
Phishing
attacks are
common
place
Black market
players migrate
into more
organized
forums (mostly
carder)
Layering
encryption on top
of communications
becomes popular
Breach of
Heartland Payment
Systems, currently
the largest ever
data breach due to
attack (~130M
records)
ZeuS Family
emerges (tool,
botnet, and
Trojan
malware); a
few variants
pop up
infrequently.
Crude phishing attacks
are phased out and
replaced by sophisticated
spear-phishing and highly
legitimate presentation
formats (e.g. of fake
website)
Number of
new exploit kits
available on the
market spikes as
trade activity and
competition takes
off
33
Marketplace
is dominated
by more
disciplined,
organized,
and
structured
groups that
often identify
specific
targets
The number of
exploit kits in the
market increases
dramatically due to
more “interesting”
vulnerabilities
Œ
2006
Exploit kits
become
available on
the market,
increasing the
ease-of-entry
for
non-technical
players
2007
2008
State-sponsored
groups develop;
start to see
state-sponsored
hacking by Russia,
China, Romania,
Ukraine, Middle
East, cartelcontrolled Central
America, etc.
Structure
Participants
Products
Attacks
Notable data breach
Variants of ZeuS
(Citadel,
GameOver, etc.)
become prolific
2009
2010
Initial
awareness
(and public
discussion) of
sophisticated
levels of
attack (i.e.
APT-level)
As-a-service
goods (especially
botnet-related)
increase
2011
2012
ZeuS source code
is leaked on the
Internet, leading
to boom of
customized
versions
2013
Breach of
Target during
holiday
shopping
season (~70M
records); stolen
data on black
market forums
within days
34
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
• Crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component; vulnerabilities will
continue to persist and all agree that the human element will continue to be a weak
point. More and more interactions depend on some sort of network, digital, or computer
component. Unpatched vulnerabilities (for vulnerabilities that have a patch) will remain
in systems until techniques for automatic deployment of patches to users are developed
and implemented. Additionally, spear-phishing campaigns will continue to grow more
sophisticated.
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Targets
• There will be more targets, as more data become digital. Today’s organizational crown
jewels are built of bytes. Back in 2003, physical security was most important to secure a
company’s most valuable information or goods. Today, everything is on a network—even
medical records.
• Hyperconnectivity opens up more points of presence for attack and exploitation. By
2020, the number of connected devices will outnumber the number of connected people
by a ratio of 6:1 (Evans, 2011). IPv6 will allow for people and devices to be connected,
accessed, and used in a way that is impossible now (Porche et al., 2013)2 —eventually,
this may introduce better security, but initially, it enables a greater threat landscape. The
Internet of Things continues to evolve; even people who might patch their computers may
forget to patch everything else they own that is network-connected.
• Exploitation of social networks and mobile devices will continue to be growth
areas. The development of mobile malware for Android devices (70 percent of all mobile
attacks) is likely to continue until Google, device manufacturers, and service providers
work together to find a way of delivering updates and patches to users as they come out
(only 12 percent of Android devices have been updated to the versions that prevent premium SMS charges being run up on the phones of unsuspecting users).
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Attack Characteristics
• Attackers will continuously innovate and change tactics. There will be more doublepronged or multistep attacks (series of attacks), with a lot more creativity and misdirection (e.g., something that looks like a DDoS, but is actually an exfiltration). There will be
an increase in attacks that are made to order and that may have a long-lasting damaging
effect, more ransomware and cryptlocker-type attacks that encrypt a user’s personal files
and demand a ransom to unlock, more polymorphic malware (which is slightly different
with every installation so it can escape detection by antivirus vendors), more VM-aware
malware that can evade being analyzed by malware analysts, and more stealth overall.
• There will be a shift away from stealing credit card and financial credentials because
markets are flooded with them. The first wave of stealing data at the processor level has
plateaued a bit. Once a breach has occurred, actors usually wait a little while before another
2
IPv6 is the next generation of Internet protocol—how network traffic moves.
Projections and Predictions for the Black Market
35
attempt. This is to avoid flooding the market and driving down prices.3 Experts believe
that there tends to be a lapse of a few years between large breaches (e.g., TJ Maxx/TJX in
2005–2006, 94 million accounts; Heartland in 2008–2009, 130 million accounts; Target
in 2013, 70 million accounts), although there will certainly still be a steady flow of breaches.
Figure 6.2 shows the biggest data breaches in history as a result of hacking (versus
inside job or poor security practices).
• There will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings, and brokers. This concept of outsourcing technical ability significantly lowers the bar for anyone wishing to
get involved in the black market. Although as-a-service models will continue to grow
(Glenny, 2009), there may be some changes—particularly how those providing the service store data, customer lists, and logs.4 Figure 6.3 is one representation depicting how
the growth of as-a-service models and plug-and-play interfaces has lowered the required
technical knowledge of an actor to be able to implement an attack.
Agreed-Upon Projections and Predictions for Shifts in Participants
• Digital natives will run the market, and the number of U.S.-based actors will continue to increase. People are becoming more technically sophisticated; younger generations are using technology on a daily basis in school, learning digital technology at a very
early age. In the words of one expert, “hacking has become little league: everyone starts
out early, and spends a lot of time doing it.”
• Law enforcement may become a victim of its own success. More arrests and takedowns
mean more media coverage, making hackers more aware of the opportunities provided by
black markets. Those already in the market grow smarter as they learn from law enforcement’s investigative techniques, complicating law enforcement’s job. Additionally, much
of what U.S. law enforcement does, and can do, is based on older, less restrictive laws.
Future laws, if developed with today’s privacy concerns in mind, may restrict what U.S. law
enforcement can do (e.g., how search warrants are done, how information is gathered). That
said, there is an underreporting of problems, so a majority of breaches never get disclosed, a
trend that may get reversed as more companies grow comfortable coming forward.
• The best hackers are likely to leave the black market for the gray market. Average
hackers, consequently, will remain and can rise to the top of the black market.
Contested Projections and Predictions
Experts had differing viewpoints on some issues. Here are a few topics that generated disparate
projections and predictions:
• most-likely victims or targets of attack. One expert says markets will move downscale
because the larger stores can better defend themselves and have better protection mea3
4
There can be the issue of too many similar goods in the market; e.g., the Target breach (Kirk, 2014).
For example, with the takedown of the Blackhole Exploit Kit, customer lists and data are now in the hands of law
enforcement personnel, which may make some nervous.
36
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Figure 6.2
Hacking Data Breaches by Size
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
SOURCE: InformationisBeautiful, undated. Used under Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licensing guidelines.
NOTE: The different shades of blue represent various years, and
the orange represents an “interesting story.”
RAND RR610-6.2
Projections and Predictions for the Black Market
37
Figure 6.3
Attack Sophistication versus Intruder Technical Knowledge
SOURCE: Image courtesy Carnegie Mellon University.
RAND RR610-6.3
sures. Another argues that there will be a shift to large organizations that give more of
a bang for the attack buck; these are vulnerable to attack given their greater number of
points of presence. Yet others say size is irrelevant; any organization with an open or vulnerable point of presence or port is a target.
• valuing IP. Some say attacks on IP and proprietary information are likely to rise, as statepaid hackers seek more intelligence on businesses and their financiers. Others observe
that getting intellectual property (i.e., conducting espionage) requires a level of sophistication and targeted attack that very few players have, and that the take from such crimes
is hard to monetize.
• vulnerability of products that are no longer supported. Some say the easy pickings
that work against Microsoft XP are likely to dry up within two years as enterprises move
to more secure platforms (e.g., Windows 7 and beyond). Others say vulnerable systems
will always exist, and lower-tier hackers will continue to focus on XP and age-old attacks,
even though they are not “big-dollar hacks.”
• targeted attacks versus mass attacks. Some argue that the future will see more persistent, targeted attacks rather than opportunistic, mass “smash-and-grab” attacks. Others
foresee more mass, orchestrated attacks, notably by state-sponsored hackers.
38
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
• growth rate of the black market. While all agree that the black market is growing,
there is debate regarding the rate of growth. Some say the black market is growing geometrically because it is “stupid simple” to make malware. Others say the growth rate will
mirror the growth rate of the noncriminal world and the use of new consumer technology. Still others maintain that the growth rate depends on the type of crime (financial,
mass, targeted, etc.), and each type has to be considered separately. Finally, some say no
baseline exists to accurately judge the rate of growth.
Chapter Seven
Conclusions
Since the mid-2000s, the hacking community has been steadily growing and maturing, as
has its market. It took more than a decade of continuous development and innovation, the
introduction of new generations of digitally savvy participants, and significant trial and error
to achieve today’s landscape. The black market does not differ all that much from a traditional
market or other typical criminal enterprises; participants communicate through various channels, place their orders, and get products. Its evolution mirrors the normal evolution of a free
market with both innovation and growth. The black market can be more profitable than the
illegal drug trade, in that the links to end-users are more direct, and because worldwide distribution is accomplished electronically, the requirements are negligible.
As with any other market, goods and vendors in the market tend to be reliable—although
bad actors do exist—and if you can get scammed (or not notice an extra “feature” in your
purchase), you will be. As suspicion and “paranoia” spike because of an increase in recent
takedowns, more transactions move to the darknet; stronger vetting takes place; and greater
encryption, obfuscation, and anonymization techniques are employed, restricting access to the
most sophisticated parts of the black market. That said, the cost to play (once in) is low because
of the proliferation of as-a-service and point-and-click interfaces, and the cost to enter—at least
at the most basic level—is quite reasonable because of the availability of “how-to” information. Law enforcement is getting better for a number of reasons: More individuals are technologically savvy; suspects are going after bigger targets, and thus are attracting more attention;
and more crimes involve a digital component, giving law enforcement more opportunities to
encounter crime in cyberspace. Yet, despite the growing rate of takedowns, the black market
remains resilient and is growing at an accelerated pace, continually getting more creative and
innovative as defenses get stronger, law enforcement gets more sophisticated, and new exploitable technologies and connections appear in the world. Products can be highly customized,
and players tend to be extremely specialized.
The black market, once a varied landscape of discrete, ad hoc networks of individuals
motivated by ego and notoriety, has now become a burgeoning powerhouse of highly organized groups, often connected with traditional crime groups (e.g., drug cartels, mafias, terrorist
cells) and nation-states.
The market for zero-days is a niche aspect of the black market, and has its own place in
the legitimate “gray” market.
We can expect the underground market to continue to grow and be more relevant, continue to innovate and adapt, and continue to mature.
39
Chapter Eight
For Future Research
The deleterious effects of black markets on cybersecurity suggest the need for options in suppressing such market activity, without which very little is likely to change. Such a search would
raise several questions:
• How might bug bounty programs or better pay and incentives from legitimate companies
shift transactions and talent off the illicit markets into legitimate business operations?
• What are the costs and benefits of establishing fake credit card shops, fake forums, and
sites to increase the number and quality of arrests, and otherwise tarnish the reputation
of black markets?
• What benefit might there be by hacking back, or including an offensive component
within law enforcement that denies, degrades, or disrupts black-market business operations? Would this do more harm than good?
• How efficient or effective is it for banks or merchants to buy back their customers’ stolen
data (e.g., Krebs, 2013h)?
• Would implementing mandates for encryption on point-of-sale terminals, safer and stronger storage of passwords and user credentials, worldwide implementation of chip and PIN
systems (already starting to happen with new standards to be in place in 2015), and regular checks of websites to prevent common vulnerabilities put a dent in the black market,
or enforce significant changes to how the market operates? Would making noncompliant
companies liable for data breaches decrease activity on the markets?
• What lessons learned from the black market for drugs or arms merchants could be applied
to the black market for cybercrime?
• What is the best or most effective strategy for law enforcement: to go after the small
number of top-tier operators (hardest to do), or the lower- or open-tier participants?
• How likely is it for governments and law enforcement worldwide to work with each
other to agree to persecute and extradite when appropriate, and to coordinate for physical
arrests and indictments?
• How should computer security and defense companies shift their approach to thwart
attackers and attacks?
41
Appendix A
Text of the Black Market Timeline
We include the full text of the timeline graphic below. A majority of this information was compiled from our interviews with experts:
• Late 1980s–early 1990s: People start getting involved in the black market, especially in
former Warsaw Pact countries blessed with plenty of good programmers and mathematicians suddenly out of work. There are cases of selling corporate espionage services to steal
IP, but not through the black market (Glenny, 2009).
• 1990s: The black market is mostly paper-based (e.g., credit card numbers on a notebook
pad), with transactions done by hand prior to the proliferation of computing devices.
• Late 1990s–early 2000s: A shift of black-market activity begins, from being mainly
individuals to mainly groups—but groups of those with close personal, cultural, or community connections.
• 1996–2004: Groups of individuals, crews (e.g. Shadowcrew, Carderplanet), and organizations start to get more organized and more sophisticated (by 2001, websites for goods
look professional).
• Late 1990s–early 2000s: Access to computing technology becomes more prevalent;
more computers on college campuses lead to younger generations more familiar with
technology.
• Late 1990s: Fewer than 10 percent of crimes have a digital nexus, or electronic connection.
• 1999: A boom of identity theft, as more people provide information about themselves to
others (e.g. for credit cards, lines of credit, etc). Early stages of fraud (human-based, not
cyber) begin.
• 2000: The concept of valuable data grows, including more than credit card data (i.e., PII
and PHI).
• 2000–2002: A majority of hackers are lone wolves or small groups of individuals (Glenny,
2013).
• 2000–2004: There is an explosion of rapidly spreading email worms and viruses. Initially, these are “probative,” later, they start to do damage to machines. Examples include
Slammer, Sasser, ILOVEYOU, and Code Red. These are written by individuals (not the
black market), and largely for notoriety. At first, “attacks came with press releases,” in that
the author wants to be known; as they start to do damage, attacks get stealthier.
• Early 2000s: Roughly half of crimes have a digital nexus or electronic connection.
• 2002: ShadowCrew and CarderPlanet message boards emerge for carders and hackers.
43
44
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
• 2003–2004: Backdoors and Trojans increase; things that could actually take an action,
and do something. These had been around since the mid- to late-1990s with BackOrifice
(1998), but they become more popular in 2003–2004 when crime starts to be mixed in
(unlike a worm/virus that just spreads on its own).
• 2003–2004: The black market consists of tight-knit ad hoc networks, mostly among
those who are technologically savvy or who have a connection to those types of people.
• 2003–2004: Financial gain rather than notoriety becomes hackers’ main motivation
factor.
• 2004: DDoS emerges as a service for adware (pay per install).
• 2004: ShadowCrew and CarderPlanet are taken down.
• 2004–2005: Carding market grows: Ad hoc Russian and Eastern European groups form
around financial crime (credit cards), involving money mules (not electronic-based); for
example, DarkMarket. Ad hoc groups are all doing their own thing, with very little communication between groups.
• 2004–2005: Markets emerge for Trojan horses. Before, buyers needed to know someone,
or were done by one person (e.g., the Melissa virus was done by one person).
• 2004–2005: The average price per card is $1–$2.
• 2004–2005: Phishing attacks increase.
• 2005: Forums are quite secret and large; players need to be prudent and prove they know
how to exploit a particular point-of-sale machine, in order to become part of the team.
• 2005–2006: Four to five major sites exist for credit card fraud, with about 1,500 users
per site (Chace, 2011).
• 2005–2006: Intrusion into TJ Maxx/TJX, resulting in the largest data breach thus far of
~94M records (InformationisBeautiful, undated)—not reported until 2007.
• 2006: Phishing attacks are “cutting edge,” although crude, rife with bad grammar and
spelling, and obviously false websites—by today’s standards.
• 2006: Mobile malware, phishing, and SMiShing (i.e. phishing for SMS) come on the
scene (McAfee Avert Labs, 2007).
• 2006–2007: Ad hoc groups and individuals coalesce to more organized forums (mostly
carders), chatter increases about hacking and further exploiting card data, home machines,
or eCommerce systems. Groups begin to break out to sell software wares, exploit kits,
access to hacked infrastructure, malware for hire, and surges in botnets.
• 2006: Exploit Kits emerge on the market (WebAttacker for $15, followed by MPack for
$1,000, and ICEPack for $400 in 2007). Before the availability of exploit kits, only highly
technical actors were able to create and use their own exploits. Exploit kits often had technical support included. A majority of exploit kits had Russian interfaces (Sophos, 2006;
M86 Security Labs, 2010; Fossi et al., 2011).
• 2007: Exploit kit creators begin to offer discounted or free versions in response to the distribution of pirated versions of the toolkits, but with backdoors in them for the creators
to exploit (Fossi et al., 2011).
• 2007: ZeuS Family (tool, botnet, and Trojan horse malware) emerges—one of the most
popular, and “most lethal” pieces of malware. A few variants pop up from time to time;
by 2010, there were more than 40,000 variants of ZeuS. Law Enforcement and Security
Researchers could release to the industry what was happening with initial variants, but
soon were outnumbered.
Text of the Black Market Timeline
45
• 2007: Unique signatures of malware exceed 130,000 in 2007, versus 54,000 in 2006
(McAfee Avert Labs, 2008).
• 2007: Most of the fraud players and cybercriminals are linked to Russia or former Soviet
states (McAfee Avert Labs, 2008).
• 2007: Activity begins to shift to being state-sponsored, as other countries see how valuable it is to get in the game.
• 2008: Phishing attacks are now commonplace.
• 2008: DarkMarket website (English-language forum) is taken down—transactions and
prevalence on the dark web increase.
• 2008: Heartland Payment Systems is breached; this remains the largest data breach ever,
of ~130M records (InformationisBeautiful, undated).
• 2008–2009: There is a boom of variants of ZeuS (Citadel, GameOver, etc.). Figure A.1
depicts the growth of detected ZeuS variants. Late 2008 to early 2009 saw the highest
record number (the record, in May 2009, is highlighted in red), before declining. One
possibility for the uptick may be due to the global economic downturn, where suddenly
jobless programmers may have ventured into the black market. The downturn may be
attributed to new encryption algorithms harnessed by ZeuS creators (Tarakanov, 2010).
• 2008–2009: State-sponsored hacking by Russia, China, Romania, Ukraine, Middle
East, cartel-controlled Central America, etc., increase, sponsoring cash out of the U.S.
financial system. Thus, attacks become far more devastating. The atmosphere changes to
more of an employee/contractor relationship than one person managing the whole thing.
Activity becomes uncontrollable from a defensive point of view.
Figure A.1
Number of New ZeuS Variants (January 2007–February 2010)
5,500
5,079
Number of new ZeuS modifications
5,000
4,500
4,000
3,500
3,000
2,500
2,000
1,500
1,000
500
0
Jan Mar
2007
May
Jul
SOURCE: Tarakanov (2010).
RAND RR610-A.1
Sep
Nov
Jan Mar
2008
May
Jul
Sep
Nov
Jan
2009
Mar May
Jul
Sep
Nov
Jan
2010
46
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
• 2008–2010: The number of services (as-a-service) increases, especially related to botnets.
• 2008–2010: Awareness (and public discussion) of sophisticated levels of attack (i.e. APTlevel) increases.
• 2009: Exploit kits’ market availability spikes (Paget, 2012; Parkour, 2014).
• 2009–2010: Use of malware to find vulnerable ports speeds up. Remote desktop protocols are used to get in. (In the past, it could take up to six months to find the weak link.)
• 2009–2010: Layering encryption on top of communications (e.g., to evade law enforcement) rises in popularity.
• 2010: Phishing attacks are now outmoded; sophisticated spear-phishing and highly legitimate presentation formats (e.g. fake websites) increase.
• 2011: ZeuS source code is leaked on underground forums, causing a new boom of customized versions (Fisher, 2011).
• 2012: The number of exploit kits in the market increases dramatically; until then, Blackhole Exploit Kit had a monopoly, responsible for 95 percent of all malicious URLs identified by researchers in the last half of 2011 (Brook, 2012).
• 2012: Carder.su, an online forum for all things carding-related, is taken down.
• 2013: The nominal street price is $8 per card, with mid-tier around $25 per card. For
guaranteed balances, the price could be much higher (into thousands of dollars).
• 2013: The market is dominated by more disciplined, organized, and structured groups
that identify specific targets, usually companies, for their attacks (Glenny, 2013).
• 2013: Approximately 19 percent of the market is U.S. hackers, with Ukraine and China
the only two nations with higher percentages (i.e., the United States has more homegrown hackers than Russia). This may be because more organizations want to get a plant/
insider within the networks. High-level executives at banks and similar institutions begin
working for criminal organizations. Also, the prison systems are teaching hacking and
financial crimes, so people are getting released on streets and that becomes their new set
of tactics. Violent crimes go down, but financial crimes more than make up the difference.
Appendix B
Glossary
Adware
Antivirus
As-a-service
Attack vector
Binders
Black market
Botnet
Botnet master
Breach
Broker
Bug bounty
Bulletproof
hosting
CAPTCHA
Software that displays advertisements, advertising banners, or pop-up
ads (Cybercrime.org, undated-a).
Software or systems designed to prevent, detect, and remove malware,
notably computer viruses.
Services that are delivered over the Internet or virtually, rather than
provided locally or on-site (TechTarget.com, August 2010).
A path or means by which an attacker can gain access to a computer or
network server to deliver a payload or malicious outcome. Attack vectors
enable attackers to exploit system vulnerabilities (TechTarget.com,
2012).
Software used to bind or combine two or more files into one file under
one name and extension. For evasion of antivirus systems (HackClarify,
undated).
The trade or traffic of hacking tools, hacking services, and the fruits of
hacking for malicious intent.
A collection of compromised computers remotely controlled by a central
authority. Can be used to carry out a variety of activities, including
sending spam, spreading malware, launching DDoS attacks, and
supporting illegal websites (Cybercrime.org, undated-b).
The person or persons who control(s) a botnet.
The intentional or unintentional release of secure information to an
untrusted environment.
A person who functions as an intermediary between two or more parties
in negotiating agreements, bargains, or the like (Wikipedia, 2014a).
Reward given for finding and reporting a bug or vulnerability in a
particular computer software product (Techopedia, undated-a).
Service provided by some domain-hosting or web-hosting firms that
allow a wide range of content to be hosted.
Program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading
tests that humans can pass but computer programs generally cannot.
Acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell
Computers and Humans Apart” (Captcha.net, undated).
47
48
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Channel (of black The conduit though which participants on the black market
market)
communicate or perform transactions.
Chip and PIN
Term used to refer to credit cards with an embedded computer chip
and a traditional magnetic stripe. A PIN is used to complete a purchase
instead of a signature (Bank of America, undated).
Crimeware
Any form of criminal activity involving the use of computers and
networks (Cybercrime.org, undated-c).
Crypter
Software that can encrypt executable (.exe) files. Crypters can be used
to encrypt viruses, RATs, keyloggers, spyware, etc. to make them
undetectable from antivirus systems (HackClarify, undated).
Cryptocurrencies A digital currency that incorporates cryptography, and often has
anonymity characteristics. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized;
i.e., no single institution controls the currency (CoinDesk.com, 2014;
Wikipedia, 2014b).
Darknet
Anonymizing private network that uses encryption and proxies to
obfuscate who is communicating with whom. Examples include Tor,
I2P, freenet (Irongeek.com, undated).
Deepweb /
Web content that is not indexed by standard search engines but can be
Deepnet
accessed through conventional means (Wikipedia, 2014c; Dark Side of
the Web, undated).
Denial of Service A type of attack used to prevent legitimate users from accessing online
Attack
services or resources. Typically, a network is brought down by flooding
it with traffic so legitimate traffic can not pass through (Cybercrime,
undated-d).
Digital currencies Electronically created and stored medium of exchange. Can be used like
money to buy physical goods and services. Examples include Bitcoin,
Pecunix, AlertPay, Litecoin, Feathercoin, Zerocoin (Wikipedia, 2014d).
Digitally based
The collection of (skilled and unskilled) suppliers, vendors, potential
black market
buyers, and intermediaries for goods or services surrounding digitally
based crimes.
Distributed Denial A type of DoS attack where multiple compromised systems are used to
of Service (DDoS) target a single system. Incoming traffic flooding a network comes from
Attack
many different sources (Webopedia, undated-a).
Doxing
Technique of performing online information gathering and
reconnaissance on a particular target. An abbreviation for “document
tracing”.
Dumps
Data stolen from the magnetic stripe on the backs of credit and debit
cards (Krebs, 2013e).
eCommerce
Type of industry where the buying and selling of goods or services
is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other
computer networks. Short for “Electronic Commerce.” Examples of
eCommerce accounts include: PayPal, Amazon (Wikipedia, 2014e).
Glossary
Encryption
49
The process of encoding messages or information in such a way that
only authorized parties can read it (Wikipedia, 2014e).
Exploit kit
Tool that can be used to create, distribute, and manage malware
payloads, to control user web traffic, to infect users through web attacks,
or to manage networks of infected machines (Howard, undated).
Fake installers
The most popular type of threat in a larger category known as SMS
Trojans (Juniper Networks, 2013).
Forum (Internet) Online discussion site where people can hold conversations, conduct
transactions, or provide information in the form of posted messages.
Similar to the (now mostly outmoded) bulletin board system (Vbulletin,
undated).
Fraudware,
Malicious software on a computer that poses as legitimate but is really
fakeware
malware. It may falsely notify a user that s/he is infected with malware
(PC Bits, undated).
Free market
An array of exchanges that take place in a society (Rothbard, 2008).
Freemium pricing Pricing strategy where a good or service is provided free of charge, but
money is charged for full or advanced features or functionality (de la
Iglesia et al., 2009).
Fullz
Full identity information, which can include full name, email address
and password, physical address, phone number, date of birth, Social
Security Number, driver’s license number, bank name, bank account
number, bank routing number, victim employer’s name (Krebs, 2011).
Fungible goods
Goods or assets that are equivalent and can be used interchangeably
(West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 2008; Investopedia, undated).
GPG
GNU Privacy Guard, an encryption scheme.
Gray market
The exchange of vulnerabilities and exploits, the discovery and
development of which are not illegal per se, but can nevertheless be
troubling because they also complicate the life of system defenders.
Hactivism
Use of computers and computer networks to promote political ends,
free speech, human rights, or information ethics. The use of technology
hacking to effect social change (Wikipedia, 2014g).
Instant message
A type of online chat that offers real-time text transmission over the
Internet. Examples of these services and programs include: IRC, ICQ,
QQ, Jabber (Wikipedia, 2014h).
Intellectual
A work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript
property (IP)
or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a
patent, copyright, trademark, etc. (Wikipedia, 2014i).
Invisible Internet An example of a darknet. Used as an anonymizing layer to connect to
Project (I2P)
other I2P websites, anonymous email, and the public Internet (Irongeek.
com, undated).
50
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Malware
Marketplace
Mule
Nonfungible good
Obfuscation
Off the record
Packers
Payload
Pay-per-install
(PPI) (services and
affiliates)
Peer-to-peer (P2P)
network
Personally
identifiable
information (PII)
Phishing
Point-of-sale
terminals
Product
Software that is intended to damage or disable computers or computer
systems. Types of malware include viruses, worms, and Trojans
(Wikipedia, 2014j).
The location in which a market operates; can be physical or virtual.
A person (or service) who transfers illegally acquired money or goods
on behalf of others. Mules can be unwitting or witting participants;
i.e. naïve individuals duped into involvement, or well-informed and
organized operations.
Goods or assets that are not easy to exchange or mix with other similar
goods or assets (Cambridge Dictionaries Online, undated).
Method or tool used to make code more complicated to read while
retaining functionality. It can be used to increase the security of
a program, or used to bypass security features or AV detection
(Techopedia, undated-b).
Cryptographic protocol that provides strong encryption for instant
message conversations (Wikipedia, 2014j).
The “outer shell” of some malware; e.g., Trojans, to hide the malware
and make detection and analysis by antivirus software more difficult.
Packers can also employ antidebugging, antiemulation, anti-VM
techniques and code obfuscation (ES/ET Virus Radar, undated).
The component of malware that executes a malicious activity
(Techopedia, undated-c).
Specialized organizations that focus on the infection of victims’ systems.
They provide a means to outsource the global dissemination of malware
(Caballero et al., undated).
Type of decentralized and distributed network architecture in which
individual nodes in the network (peers) connect to each other. Contrast
with a centralized client-server model where client nodes request access
to resources provided by central servers (Wikipedia, 2014k) .
Information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s
identity. Can include name, Social Security Number, biometric records,
date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number,
financial account information (iDash, undated).
The act of attempting to acquire information—such as usernames,
passwords, and financial information—by masquerading as a
trustworthy entity using electronic communications such as email
(Wikipedia, 2014l).
The place where a retail transaction is completed; the point at which a
customer makes a payment to the merchant in exchange for goods or
services (Wikipedia, 2014m).
Collection of economic output, including physical goods and intangible
services (Wikipedia, 2014n).
Glossary
51
Protected health Individually identifiable health information, including demographic
information (PHI) data, that relates to an individual’s past, present, or future physical
mental health or condition; provision of health care to the individual;
past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the
individual (iDash, undated).
Ransomware
A class of malware that restricts access to the computer system it infects,
and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware for the
restriction to be removed (Wikipedia, 2014o).
Rippers
Participants in the underground market who do not provide the goods
or services they advertise.
Search engine
Process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search
optimization
engine’s “natural” or unpaid (“organic”) search results (Wikipedia,
2014p).
SMS Trojans
A type of malware that surreptitiously sends SMS text messages to
premium text messaging services (Juniper Networks, undated).
Social engineering The act of influencing an entity (e.g., a person) to accomplish goals that
may or may not be in that entity’s best interest. It may include obtaining
information, gaining access, or getting the entity to take certain action
(Social-Engineer.org, undated).
Spam
Unsolicited, irreverent, or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to
a large number of recipients. May include malware or malicious links.
Electronic junk mail (Webopedia, undated-b; Wikipedia, 2014q).
Spear-phishing
Phishing attempts directed at specific individuals or companies. Used
by attackers to gather personal information about targets to increase
probability of success (Wikipedia, 2014l).
Spyware
Software that covertly gathers user information (e.g., passwords,
financial and account credentials) without the user’s knowledge
(Webpoedia, undated-c).
The Onion Router An example of a darknet. Used as an anonymizing layer, it directs
(Tor)
Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network to conceal
a user’s location or usage (Wikipedia, 2014r).
Tier (of black
Access levels for participants on the black market; how participants
market)
operate in order to perform transactions and communications.
Virtual machine Software-based emulation of a computer (Wikipedia, 2014s) .
Virtual private
Extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet.
network (VPN)
Enables a computer to send and receive data across shared or public
networks as if it were directly connected to the private network, while
benefiting from the functionality, security, and management policies of
the private network (Wikipedia, 2014t).
Vulnerability
A software, hardware, procedural, or human weakness that may provide
an attacker with an open door with which to exploit.
52
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
Watering hole
attack
Zero-day
vulnerabilities
ZeuS
An attack that compromises a popular or well-trafficked website by
leaving a piece of malware that will infect all legitimate users visiting the
site.
Exploitable vulnerabilities that a software vendor is not aware of and for
which no patch has been created.
Malware (Trojan) that can be used for malicious purposes. Uses include
stealing banking information and installing other malware (e.g.,
CryptoLocker ransomware) (Wikipedia, 2014u).
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqeLPpZXBc4
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Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
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64
Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Information: Hackers’ Bazaar
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Selected Interviews and Personal Communications
Adams, Kyle, Juniper Networks, email communication with the authors, October 2013.
Allodi, Luca, Università degli Studi di Trento, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013.
Clinton, Larry, President of Internet Security Alliance, telephone interview with the authors, December 2013.
Fidler, Mailyn, email communication with the authors, January 2014.
Guido, Dan, CEO of Trail of Bits, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013.
Helm, Fred, Senior Manager, Asset Protection, of WalMart Corp., telephone interview with the authors,
November 2013.
Howard, Rick, CSO of Palo Alto Networks, email communication with the authors, October 2013.
Huston, Brent, MicroSolved, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013.
McAllister, Sean, Accuvant Software Security Group, email communication with the authors, October 2013.
Marcus, Dave, McAfee Labs, telephone interview with the authors, December 2013.
Menn, Joseph, investigative reporter and author of the book Fatal System Error, telephone interview with the
authors, November 2013.
Paget, François, McAfee Labs, email communication with the authors, December 2013–February 2014.
Parkour, Mila, Contagio, email communication with the authors, November 2013–February 2014.
Paxson, Vern, University of California, Berkeley, and International Computer Science Institute, email
communication with the authors, November 2013.
Plesco, Ron, KPMG, telephone interview with the authors, December 2013.
Ponemon, Larry, Ponemon Institute, telephone interview with the authors, November 2013.
Reynolds, Ted, Professor at University of Central Florida, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013.
BitcoinShop, Inc. representative, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013 (name withheld on
request).
Vennon, Troy, Juniper Networks, telephone interview with the authors, October 2013.
Watson, Alex, Director of Security Research at Websense, email communication with the authors, October
2013.
As noted earlier, we also spoke with those who wish to remain anonymous. These include six law enforcement/
government personnel and two security researchers.
Criminal activities in cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets for both tools (e.g.,
exploit kits) and take (e.g., credit card information). This report, part of a multiphase study on the future security
environment, describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have grown into their current
state to explain how their existence can harm the information security environment. Understanding the current and
predicted landscape for these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options to minimize the
potentially harmful influence these markets impart. Experts agree that the coming years will bring more activity
in darknets, more use of crypto-currencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to
encrypting and protecting communications and transactions; that the ability to stage cyberattacks will likely outpace
the ability to defend against them; that crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component, creating a
wider range of opportunities for black markets; and that there will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings,
and brokers. Experts disagree, however, on who will be most affected by the growth of the black market (e.g., small
or large businesses, individuals), what products will be on the rise (e.g., fungible goods, such as data records and
credit card information; non-fungible goods, such as intellectual property), or which types of attacks will be most
prevalent (e.g., persistent, targeted attacks; opportunistic, mass “smash-and-grab” attacks).
NAT I ONAL SECUR I T Y R ES EAR C H DIV IS IO N
www.rand.org
$24.50
ISBN-10 0-8330-8711-8
ISBN-13 978-0-8330-8711-9
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