- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Security experts said in a report released Tuesday that the online marketplace for illegal goods and services is booming and getting bigger, and pointed to websites where hacker-for-hire services and computer intrusion tools are being offered alongside stolen identities and forged documents at cut-throat prices.

The report, the third installment of the annual Underground Hacker Markets study released by Dell’s SecureWorks, concludes that cyber criminals are having no problem turning profits on the Internet underground, and serves as a reminder with respect to how easy and affordable it is to wreak digital havoc.

“Like any other market in a capitalist system, the business of cybercrime is guided by the supply and demand for various goods and services waxes and wanes. Unfortunately for the law abiding public, both sides of that equation remain strong, with everything from credit cards to hacker-for-hire services being sold online,” the report noted.

Remote Access Trojans, or RATs — malware intended to give a hacker total control over a targeted computers — are being sold on underground markets in 2015 for as low as $5, according to the report, compared to costing between $50 and $250 when the same study was done in 2014.

Stolen credit card data is being sold on those same portals for not much more than during 2014 or 2015, the report acknowledged, and can be purchased for not much more than $50 complete with entire dossiers containing an individual’s compromised personal information.

Notably, SecureWorks’ team suggested that cybercriminals are making the most out of increasingly affordable and available 3D-printing technology to expand profit margins and establish household businesses, albeit illegal ones.

ATM skimming, which has enabled crooks to covertly collect info from bank machines for years, has surged in recent months, the report stated, and the hardware necessary to carry out the heist were seen by SecureWorks’ experts selling recently for as much as $1,775.

According to the report, one seller boasted of having skimmer for “13 of the most popular ATMs,” each one made in-house and “finished to perfection.” At least one other offering wares on underground markets was advertising computer files containing 3D-printer blueprints for ATM skimmers, the report noted.

“The point is, the underground marketplace is booming and only getting bigger, more sophisticated and competitive,” said SecureWorks. 

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