Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Squeezing the Cybercrime Ecosystem in 2009

How do you trigger a change that would ultimately affect the entire cybercrime ecosystem? Going full disclosure may be the most logical option, but past experience reveals that using it has a modest temporary effect. For instance, exposing a stolen credit cards shop isn't going to separate the owner from the stolen database, neither would his customers base disappear, so stating that it's shut down in reality means that it's currently active at another location which the owner quickly communicates to the customers base. I keep seeing it happen once a sample service gets media attention, and I'll keep seeing it happen.

The myth that geolocating their malicious activities would always end up in an Eastern European network where developed law enforcement agencies would have little to no jurisdiction at all, proved to be a common stereotype given that the well known cybercrime-friendly ISPs that were shut down in 2008 were and have always been U.S based operations. Therefore, the excuse of not being able to take action due to the lack of international law enforcement cooperation isn't appicable in this case.

So how should the cybercrime ecosystem be squeezed? Personalize it and communicate the levels of efficiency cybercriminals achieve by using the very same disturbing photos that they use to demonstrate the effectiveness of their web based stolen credit card shops in order to achieve the necessary public outbreak.

Even though I pretend that the research and profiles of the underground tools and services that I've been detailing throughout 2008 is cutting-edge research, this research is basically scratching the surface, but how come? Just like there's a perfect and bad timing for a particular product or service to hit the market, in this very same fashion the general public is still not ready to embrace some of the highly disturbing point'n'click identity theft services that have been operating for years. Sadly, some even question the usability and authenticity of these underground services, and therefore a change has to be triggered by starting to publish the cybercriminals' ROI out of using them in the form of the photos of users swimming in cash that they've cashed-out of the stolen credit cards. Disturbing? It's supposed to be, since it will not only prompt public outbreak, but also, have a well proven self-regulation effect on behalf of the service owner's, at least from my personal experience while profiling related services.

This is perhaps the perfect moment to emphasize on how important threat intell sharing with law enforcement, whether directly based on personal contacts or through one-to-many communication model through private mailing lists, a cyber threats analysts case-building capabilities would not only prove valuable in the long term, but would also make it easier for someone to do their prosecuting job faster. And while important, threat intell sharing with law enforcement is not the panacea of squeezing the cybecrime ecosystem, since cybercrime should not be treated as the systematic abuse of common IT insecurities for fraudulent purposes, instead, it should be treated as a form of economic terrorism. Only then, would cybercrime receive the necessary attention instead of such comments regarding McColo or Atrivo - "Resource-wise, we can't be in the business of prevention. We have to be in the business of prosecution." Exactly. I guess that just like you cannot be a prophet in your own country, you cannot also be a prophet in your own agency, thankfully, the wisdom of the cybercrime fighting crowd is always there to take care and get zero credit at the end of the day.

Personally, 2009 is going to be the year when personalizing cybercriminals would be taking place on a more regular basis, so stay tuned for an upcoming report summarizing "behind the curtains" cybercrime activities in 2008, underground responses to some of major busts of year including the DarkMarket operation, the fraudulent schemes allowing them to cash-out digital assets into hard cash, the basics of their social networking model, who's who in the hierarchy of a sampled business model of vendors of ATM skimming devices, the post-DarkMarket OPSEC practices introduced in order for cybecrime communities to verify the authenticity of their customers, the process of advertising and operating underground services as well as the communication methods used, in short - all the juicy details, screenshots and photos courtesy of the owners and customers of the services that haven't been communicated to the industry and the world throughout 2008.

Find attached a photo teaser acting as a confirmation for the usefulness of "yet another stolen credit card details service" in the wild, and have a productive year exposing low lifes and spilling coffee over their business models.

Related posts:
76Service - Cybercrime as a Service Going Mainstream
Using Market Forces to Disrupt Botnets
Localizing Cybercrime - Cultural Diversity on Demand
Localizing Cybercrime - Cultural Diversity on Demand Part Two
EstDomains and Intercage VS Cybercrime
E-crime and Socioeconomic Factors
Money Mules Syndicate Actively Recruiting Since 2002
Price Discrimination in the Market for Stolen Credit Cards
Are Stolen Credit Card Details Getting Cheaper?
The Underground Economy's Supply of Goods