With more people looking to engage in online crime racketeering and huge caches of cheap, easy-to-find personal information, the documents describing the process of committing (and getting away with) fraud by line become products of choice.
This according to a study [PDF] from Security biz Terbium Labs, which analyzed three huge darknet markets and found that fraud guides were by far the most popular item sold. The study was based on observations from Empire Market, White House Market and Canadian HeadQuarters, three underground souks that researchers compared to Amazon and eBay in their massive footprints and their use of rankings to rank merchants.
The Terbium team believes that these guides, which help beginners through processes such as setting up bank fronts, creating phishing emails and stealing money from victims' accounts, represent a just under half (49%) of all store data transactions (excluding drugs or for-hire services like DDoS attacks).
“What they have in common is detailed information on how to export an organization's current policies,” said Terbium Labs of the guides. “Often the content of the guides on fraud does not require any prior knowledge of the (criminal) reader and can realistically lead to the success of the steps described.”
By comparison, financial data records were far behind, accounting for only 15.6% of all transactions, followed by details of non-financial accounts, which represented 12.2% of what people bought.
Merchants not only sell more guides, they also get a better price for them than stolen financial records usually are. A single fraud guide will typically cost you around $ 7.80, while account details will vary widely in prices and low value credentials could only cost around $ 1 each.
“We regularly see stolen data for sale in these markets at surprisingly low prices, given the high cost of the consequences of stolen data for an organization,” said Tyler Carbone, chief strategy officer for Terbium. “The missing piece here is how criminals buy this data and use the knowledge and tools available to exploit it.”
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This despite what Terbium says is a skeptical attitude towards the guides and their accuracy of information. While they don't expect most guide programs to actually work (criminals are not to be trusted – understand), potential hackers are so desperate to find equipment that they buy the manuals mass use.
It is interesting to note that what Terbium advises its customers to do is find out what is in these guides and guides and take countermeasures.
In addition to protecting companies from the specific regimes mentioned, this will also work against the biggest weakness of these markets: the common belief among criminals that guides are often unreliable and inaccurate.
“It's a good thing for businesses – if a business buys a fraud guide early, it can change the affected internal policies immediately, making the fraud guide useless,” says Terbium.
“As a result, the seller of this guide to fraud will be discredited and possibly deemed unreliable by other criminals.” ®
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