Cybercrime is already huge – and still growing at a phenomenal rate. It is also maturing in scary ways.
We all remember when hacking was quite fun. Almost cute. Teenagers would hack into the Pentagon and we would smile and then wonder if there was a teenager around when we couldn’t fix some technical problem.
Now cybercrime is not about gangs, it is about business. There are many reasons for this increasing sophistication, where it is now possible to buy or rent all sorts of ‘crimeware’ as a service.
It is mainly about money (and easy to use services backed up by great customer service).
As this article explains, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are the favoured method of payment of a ransom and the value of bitcoin has increased enormously since cybercrime started to get serious.
As cybercrime businesses grew, business acumen became as important as attacking stuff and suddenly there was an R&D budget, which could be used to explore AI and other technologies and evaluate and deploy them to devastating effect.
Another issue with cybercrime is the escalation effect. As attacks become more sophisticated, defences become more sophisticated, which triggers ‘improvements’ in cybercrime techniques and the circle goes on.
Already we are into the realms of mercenary armies, sophisticated gangs being hired by nation states to inflict embarrassment and chaos on their enemies.
There is still speculation over the attack on the Colonial pipeline company. It was never entirely clear whether there was an attack or a threat against the operational infrastructure or just against the payments system. And it seemed a little too easy for the US to get most of the ransom back.
There is also speculation that Russia has been tracking down the bigger gangs and taking them down, capturing the ring leaders, or worse.
The escalation of cybercrime is not likely to slow or stop, any time soon. It is now big business and becoming too big to easily stop. There are, as Security Week reports, now several cybercrime Unicorns. That is scary and is looking like another virus that we will have to learn to live with.