Cybercriminals are highly-skilled individuals who use their knowledge in programming to beat security barriers and steal sensitive data from people and organizations. They have been present since the dawn of the Internet, as a recurrent challenge for both users and authorities.
A few years back we saw cybercriminals as a massive threat. The lack of information created a veil of mystery around what crackers and hackers did for a living and how they did accomplish all those things. Today, authorities and popular culture shed light on how they operate, neutralizing all the romance and magic in what they do.
We started to believe that these cybercriminals were a lesser threat than we originally thought. We also started to believe that authorities are outstandingly effective in protecting us and bringing them to justice.
Nevertheless, cybercriminals continue to be a very serious threat. While cybersecurity-focused technologies continue to develop to grant better results overall, malicious agents get smarter and more effective in their illegal activities. This phenomenon is more palpable in the dark web, where their furtive habits award better results.
Dark Web and Innovation
The dark web wasn’t conceived to do bad, illegal things but to simply guarantee the anonymity of its users. Yet, that same powerful characteristic created the perfect conditions for criminals to operate with great impunity. They were able to sell illegal goods, both physical and digital, and remain in the shadows, far from the law’s reach.
However, authorities stepped up their efforts in terms of cybersecurity, recruiting the finest professionals to hunt down cybercriminals. This environment has been creating highly-skilled and talented hackers, professional outlaws that are hard to catch.
Authorities have seized several of the criminal hubs where drugs, weapons, private data, and worse were being sold on the dark web. AlphaBay and Hansa were big names that law enforcement achieved to take down in recent years. Yet, these events forced criminals still freely operating to develop and implement new, more effective ways to get their business done without being caught.
For example, IRC protocol is being used as the foundation of private networks where criminals continue to sell their goods, this time only between trusted members. Also, new markets are implementing cybersecurity mechanisms to protect themselves, like multi-factor authentication and anti-phishing software. This is pure irony as these criminals are using the same methods software firms created to keep them at bay.
What Does This Mean for Business?
Organizations need to realize that cybersecurity is a fast-paced race that requires the effort of all parties involved. While tools and resources continuously develop to become more effective, malicious agents also step up their games.
There is a balance that we need to appreciate. It requires us, as businesses, to invest accordingly to keep the balance healthy on our side. The fact that malign innovation is taking place in the dark web is a relevant signal for us to interpret. Cybercriminals are investing more than enough to become better at their jobs and we should learn one thing or two from this.
Let’s not fool ourselves thinking that one basic layer of security is enough to keep malicious attacks at bay. There is plenty of information out there, even from official sources, that try to create more awareness about the serious threats we are facing in our every day. Yet, we fail to invest the required resources to enjoy strong security methods.
The story behind AlphaBay and his demise made it very clear that criminals are human and prone to commit serious mistakes that put them closer to jail. This story is simply insane and those errors committed by the now-deceased Alexandre Cazes can be seen as a warning for the whole community of hackers.