Why is it important: The dark web is still alive and well, and it is more dangerous than ever. New research shows how the value of stolen data and the general behavior of cybercriminals has changed over the past six years.
Cloud Security Firm, Bitglass, recreated a data tracking experiment in 2015 when a fictional character was invented selling login and password credentials. The researchers then posted the information to several dark web marketplaces, enticing users by offering access to fake files that would open up access to organizations in the retail, government, gaming and media sectors.
The watermarking technology embedded in the files allowed Bitglass to track data from users who accessed it, and thus collect current trends on the dark web. The findings were interesting. Overall, stolen data is spreading 11 times faster on the darknet today than it was six years ago.
Hack data received over 13,200 views in 2021, well over 1,100 views in 2015. The growth represents an increase of 1,100 percent, which clearly demonstrates how the underground platform has become an even more popular destination for cybercriminals.
The time it took to reach 1,100 link views in 2015 was 12 days. In 2021, targets accessed bogus data significantly faster, as it took them less than 24 hours to view links.
The locations where the stolen data originated have shown that the United States is the second most common region from which cybercriminals originate. The top three include Kenya, America and Romania.
The study also found that targets show a strong interest in data on US retail and government chains. These two categories received the highest number of clicks – 37% and 32%, respectively. This is not a surprising discovery, as the potential buyout could generate huge profits in these fields.
Retail chains are naturally a top priority for cybercriminals, as they can distribute ransomware and receive payments from large enterprises. Likewise, US government data is just as valuable because hackers – whether government-sponsored or private individuals – can then sell that information to other countries.
In addition, activity on the darknet has intensified. According to the study, the total number of anonymous viewers on the Dark Web reached 93 percent in 2021, a notable increase from 67 percent in 2015.
Bitglass emphasized that cybercriminals have largely evaded laws against cybercrime as they have become more effective in covering their tracks.
Cybersecurity efforts by enterprises and organizations have failed to adequately prevent attacks. In addition, due to the increased scrutiny by law enforcement in tracking down intruders, the firm expects them to continue to use anonymous VPNs and proxies to bypass authorities.
“When comparing the results of this latest experiment with those of 2015, it’s clear that data on the Dark Web is spreading farther and faster,” said Mike Schuricht, head of Bitglass Threat Research Group. “We expect the growing volume of data breaches, as well as new opportunities for cybercriminals to monetize exfiltered data, have led to increased interest and activity regarding stolen data on the Dark Web.”
According to data released by Microsoft, Dark Web residents can purchase most cybercrime services for less than $ 500. VPN Atlas discovered that underground marketplaces offer one set of ransomware for as little as $ 66, while hackers charge only about $ 311 to conduct a sustained DDoS attack on a target for a month.
Data leaks are common these days, so it should come as no surprise that stolen usernames and passwords are offered for as little as 97 cents per 1,000 accounts. In addition, hackers perform non-standard tasks such as credit card fraud or identity theft for as little as $ 250.
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