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Crimeware available for as low as... $1?

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on October 11, 2017 | Last updated on October 11, 2017 at 08.31 pm
Crimeware available for as low as... $1?
In the Middle East and North Africa, hacktivism, DDoS attacks and website defacements are a staple.

(Reuters file)

These are hidden prices that hackers and others crybercriminals charge for providing hacking tools and malware

The dark world of the Internet is much bigger than the visible world that we see in our day-to-day lives with crimeware and hacking tools sold for as low as $1 to $50 in the Middle East and North Africa region, says a new report.

Crimeware sold includes a variety of cryptors, malware and hacking tools, in the range of $1 to $12, while keyloggers are free or sold up to $19, and ransomware for $30 to $50, according to a Trend Micro whitepaper released at Gitex Technology Week.

"This is the dark Internet of underground economy. These are hidden prices that hackers and others crybercriminals charge for providing hacking tools and malwares. There are forums for hacking; whatever you can think of cybercrime it's available there. Most commonly available are malwares, fake documentation, drugs and weapons in the dark Web world in this region. In the US, drugs and weapons are most commonly available in this dark world," said Ihab Moawad, vice-president for the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa at Trend Micro.

In the Middle East and North Africa, hacktivism, DDoS attacks and website defacements are a staple. Major primary product categories are 27 per cent each for malware and fake documents; 20 per cent for stolen data; 13 per cent for crimeware; 10 per cent for weapons; and three per cent for narcotics, according to Trend Micro's research results.

Moawad pointed out that the generally the payment for these cybercrimes is done through credit cards, bitcoins and sometimes by cash as well. He said governments don't have tools, depth and understanding of the underground world, therefore, cybersecurity firms work with the Interpol and global law enforcement entities.

"Cybercrime is a global phenomenon. In the Mena region, the people in the dark Web world give stuff for free but it's not the same in other parts of the world. This collaboration happening here is also unique as they talk with each other in a very formal way like brothers and help each other out. You don't see this kind of coordination elsewhere. They give you instructions also on how to join it. In North America, people have to read about it. For any crime, the purpose is generating money; it applies the same for the cybercrime. By hacking enterprises, hackers can get much more money as compared to individuals," said Bilal Baig, director of system engineering for the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa at Trend Micro.

He said virtual private networks are a mainstay for cybercriminal activity and can be purchased due to the anonymity they provide. VPNs offered here are purportedly secure, don't store logs, and have multiple hop points. Cybercriminals will typically use these servers as either part of a botnet, or a jump-off platform for further attacks.

According to Baig, stolen identities are sold in forums across the region. The Arabic forum hack-ing in Egypt sells stolen identities for $18. The demand for personally identifiable documents is influenced by geopolitical tensions, their buyers wanting to flee active war zones, for instance, leveraging them to migrate to other countries as refugees.

On the other hand, cybercriminals can also purchase fake documents to perpetrate insurance fraud or prove resident status. A daunting real-world implication is a dangerous person buying these fake documents, and slipping through to other countries as refugees, the report said.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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