Cyber Crime and Automation: Bots, Bots, and More Bots

September 23, 2022

With tools now available at the cybercrime boutique Genesis Market, online theft, fraud, and extortion have become user-friendly. It is no wonder the problem is growing faster than ever. Insider spoke with someone who knows a thing or two about the topic and reports, “A Former Cybercriminal Who Once Worked with—and Betrayed—the Secret Service Says the Easy Access to Bots Is One of the Biggest Threats on the Internet Right Now.” Now rehabilitated, ex-hacker Brett Shannon Johnson now works at a fraud prevention company. Writer Samantha Delouya tells us:

“[Johnson] told Insider he worries that shady corners of the web, like bot marketplace The Genesis Market, have made it easier for inexperienced criminals to commit complicated financial crimes. ‘You’ve got sophisticated tools that 98% of cybercriminals simply don’t use, and what scares me right now is we’re seeing that change [to more use],’ Johnson said. Johnson says these bot marketplaces can deliver everything a low-level hacker would need to commit complicated financial crimes. ‘When you visit a Genesis Market, you can search for the target that you’re wanting to get. Chase, Bank of America, Google, Walmart …. you can search for the target. It will deliver the bots that are accessing credentials for that target… So I buy the bot, and the bot delivers everything that I need,’ Johnson added.”

Delouya notes cryptocurrencies have been an especially juicy target recently. With these tools at the ready, Johnson suspects, the challenging economy will motivate many otherwise law-abiding folks to try their hand at financial crimes. For the rest of us, let this be a reminder to stay on top of security best-practices. Have you changed your important passwords lately?

Cynthia Murrell, September 23, 2022

A Look at Several Cyber Busts of 2023

May 8, 2024

Curious about cybercrime and punishment? Darknet data firm DarkOwl gives us a good run down of selective take downs in its blog post, “Cybercriminal Arrests and Disruptions: 2023 Look Back.” The post asserts law enforcement is getting more proactive about finding and disrupting hackers. (Whether that improvement is keeping pace with the growth of hacking is another matter.) We are given seven high-profile examples.

First was the FBI’s takedown of New York State’s Conor Fitzpatrick, admin of the dark web trading post BreachForums. Unfortunately, the site was back up and running in no time under Fitzpatrick’s partner. The FBI seems to have had more success disrupting the Hive Ransomware group, seizing assets and delivering decryption keys to victims. Europol similarly disrupted the Ragnar Locker Ransomware group and even arrested two key individuals. Then there were a couple of kids from the Lapsus$ Gang. Literally, these hackers were UK teenagers responsible for millions of dollars worth of damage and leaked data. See the write-up for more details on these and three other 2023 cases. The post concludes:

“Only some of the law enforcement action that took place in 2023 are described in this blog. Law enforcement are becoming more and more successful in their operations against cybercriminals both in terms of arrests and seizure of infrastructure – including on the dark web. However, events this year (2024) have already shown that some law enforcement action is not enough to take down groups, particularly ransomware groups. Notable activity against BlackCat/ALPHV and LockBit have shown to only take the groups out for a matter of days, when no arrests take place. BlackCat are reported to have recently conducted an exit scam after a high-profile ransomware was paid, and Lockbit seem intent on revenge after their recent skirmish with the law. It is unlikely that law enforcement will be able to eradicate cybercrime and the game whack-a-mole will continue. However, the events of 2023 show that the law enforcement bodies globally are taking action and standing up to the criminals creating dire consequences for some, which will hopefully deter future threat actors.”

One can hope.

Cynthia Murrell, May 8, 2024

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