Cybercrime may seem like the kind of thing perpetrated by maverick, nontraditional groups, but a group of security researchers recently suggested they might be just as vulnerable to things that hurt their bottom line as their victims.
In a blog post published by the Google Antifraud and Abuse Research team, security experts claimed those trying to combat cybercrime shouldn’t just focus on making their network perimeter tougher to crack. Instead, the industry should work together to effectively make it more expensive to target businesses by raising the price of registering bulk online accounts that later get used in duplicitous acts, for example. The theory goes that, much like any sector of the economy, the black market reacts negatively to increased costs. This could serve as a deterrent to some hacking collectives or organized crime groups, the researchers suggested.
Of course, cybercrime has become an increasingly lucrative business, given what attackers can do with stolen customer information or by gaining access to corporate systems with data they can sell elsewhere. As SC Magazine pointed out, however, it’s rare that security research has examined the true cost of doing business for those conducting phishing schemes or distributing malware. Since criminals need to use public services to impersonate legitimate businesses, this may be an overlooked area of weakness.
Threatpost noted that while ordinary businesses may not be able to make cybercrime more expensive than it is today, there might be better measures to fight back than simply installing a stronger firewall or antivirus program. The Google research emphasized how the company was able to reduce the ability to obtain and verify fake accounts by temporarily blocking free voice-over-IP services and cellular towers. This could be an example of how certain points in cybercriminals’ black-market food chain could be disrupted in a way that benefits legitimate businesses.
Perhaps Dark Reading put it best: Rather than simply following up an attack by beefing up defenses, organizations need to better understand the profitability of cybercrime. That way, there will be less incentive for those stealing data or developing exploit kits to share them on the black market in the first place. The ecosystem of buying and selling among cybercriminals may wind up being a lot more fragile than was ever realized.