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The Russian Epicenter of Cybercrime Ramps Up the Sophistication

16/10/2014 by


The Russian high-tech crime market for 2014 is showing ever-increasing sophistication, with criminals creating shadow worlds of illegal activity, exploiting new financial theft techniques and incorporating mobile attacks more often.

Group-IB’s computer forensics lab and its CERT-GIB unit, in its annual report on the Russian cybercrime scene, noted that a top trend to stand out is the fact that the Russian market for stolen credit card information—arguably the epicenter of the data breach trend—has become much more structured in the last year, complete with wholesalers and online trading platforms. Revenue is increasing accordingly; the company estimates the carding market to be at about $680 million.

“Criminals can easily browse and purchase stolen credit-card information as if they were shopping on any mainstream e-commerce site,” the company said. “A study of the online card market site SWIPED found that the most active card supplier is a criminal individual called ‘Rescator,’ who uploaded details of over 5 million cards to the online marketplace.”

In investigating a test sample, Group-IB found that all sampled cards were originally stolen from the retail chain Target, which famously suffered a security breach in the past year.

Group-IB also found that 80% of payments on SWIPED are made using Bitcoin, with other cryptocurrencies also playing a role as convenient tools for illegal transactions.

“Shadow Internet shops selling goods such as stolen information, weapons and drugs have switched to using cryptocurrencies as their primary payment methods,” the report explained. “The use of malware-based botnets to mine Bitcoins has also become so developed that botnet renting through services like SkyShare has become a reality. Stealing from cryptocurrency wallets using trojans has also become more sophisticated and common.”

Speaking of trojans, on the banking front, mobile banking threats experienced strong growth.

“This year, five criminal groups emerged that specialize in mobile banking theft using trojans,” Group IB noted. “These groups infect Android phones and steal information via SMS banking and the use of phishing sites. The scale of these thefts is limited only by the manual nature of the activity.”

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