In this digital age, cybercrime has been on the rise with these criminals final target being money. The most widespread techniques of monetizing cyberattacks include selling stolen databases, extortion (ransomware), and carding.
However, there is demand on the dark web not only for data obtained through an attack, but also for the data and services necessary to organize one. With the rise of cybercrime as a service business model, the information necessary to organize an attack is in demand among cybercriminals.
Kaspersky’s experts analysed nearly 200 posts on the dark web offering to buy information for initial access to companies’ forums. The average cost for access to a big company’s systems lies between $2000 and $4000, which is relatively inexpensive compared to the potential damage it could cause targeted businesses. Such services are of prime interest to ransomware operators, whose profits could reach up to a whopping $40 million a year.
Once an attacker gains access to the organisation’s infrastructure, they can sell that access to other advanced cybercriminals, such as ransomware operators. Such attacks result in significant financial and reputational losses to the targeted organisation and may even cause a suspension of work and disruption to business processes. SMBs and enterprises are both targeted by these attacks.
According to the report by Kaspersky, almost 75% of posts on the dark web in relation to selling access involve the trade of RDP (Remote Desktop) access. It provides access to a desktop or application hosted remotely, then allows cybercriminals to connect, access, and control data resources via a remote host as if a company’s employees were controlling the data locally.
The prices for the initial access vary greatly from a couple of hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands. Unsurprisingly, the key determinant for the high prices of the analyzed offers is the potential victim’s revenue – the price grows alongside the revenue. The prices might also differ depending on the company’s industry and operating region.
Access to large business infrastructures usually costs between $2,000 and $4,000, which are relatively modest prices. But there is no upper limit to the cost either. Data belonging to a company with a revenue of $465 million is for sale for $50,000.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important components of the initial access price is the amount of money the buyer can potentially earn from an attack using that access. Ransomware operators are ready to pay thousands, or even tens of thousands, for the opportunity to infiltrate a corporate network for a reason. These often cost the targeted corporation millions of dollars. The most prolific actors from the past year have potentially received $5.2 billion in transfers over the last three years.
As well as encrypting corporate data, cybercriminals also steal it. They may later post some of the stolen data in their blogs – primarily as proof, but also for extra leverage – threatening to publish more unless the company pays them the money they demand within a stipulated timeframe.
Sergey Shcherbel, a security expert at Kaspersky, says that this is not a surprise as the cybercriminal community has evolved. He says that the community has not only evolved from a technical point of view but also from the standpoint of their organization.
“Today ransomware groups look more like real industries with services and products for sale. We constantly monitor darknet forums to detect new trends and tactics of the cybercriminal underground. We’ve observed the increasing market of data required to organise an attack. Gaining the visibility of sources across the dark web is essential for companies seeking to enrich their threat intelligence. Timely information about planned attacks, discussions around vulnerabilities, and successful data breaches will help to reduce the attack surface and lead appropriate actions,” comments Sergey.