Earlier, launching a cyber attack needed a lot of expertise. But these days’ wannabe or newbie cybercriminals are finding it very easy to launch an attack- all thanks to the online shopping platforms.
Michael McGuire, a criminologist from Surrey University says that cybercriminals are nowadays using $1.5 trillion in profits a year to acquire, launder, spend and reinvest in cybercrime through “Platform Criminality” which in simple words means connecting buyers with sellers via the internet.
McGuire predicts that the role of platforms in sponsoring and supporting cybercrime economy will surge in next couple of years as there is no law to monitor such acts. Thus, wannabe cybercriminals can no longer need to be well versed in computer technology to conduct cybercrime. They can just shop around for various components and software on Amazon, eBay, and Airbnb and fulfill their objectives.
In recent times, dedicated platforms encouraging such crime, by all means, have sprouted in an indigenous way. One such web portal happens to be Webstresser which was shut down in April this year by Interpol in an active operation conducted by British and Dutch police to curb cybercrime.
Still, they are many such sites prevailing and persistent on the internet where customers can hire hackers or purchase software, data, login credentials, hardware such as credit card skimmers and fake mobile phone masts and target individual, groups or businesses.
Daniel Cohen, the director of Fraud and Risk at RSA Cybersecurity Company says “If I need to steal credit cards I don’t need to have expertise in it or have specific software. Just need to go to the dark web and buy the information of compromised credit cards. And the price is simple- $1000 for getting the details of more than 100 credit cards”.
The situation has evolved into such a state that even mainstream platforms are being used by criminals to distribute malware, phishing emails, and other cybercrime tools. For instance, Google’s DoubleClick Advertising system was hijacked by Russian hacking group that exploited it to circulate spying malware to users. They just somehow injected the malware into advertisements appearing on shopping websites of retailers such as Target, eBay, Walmart and Sears and stole the account credentials, search queries, and financial details. It is said that some 3,000 retailers were affected in this activity and the details of the victims are yet to be known.
Fraudsters are also seen establishing fake shops and ghost taxi rides in order to barge the illegal payments into legal streams via Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal.
Henceforth, there seems to be no stopping for hackers with nefarious objectives.