Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cybercrime: Tower of Babel


In the radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, by Orson Welles in 1938, aliens invade the Earth. Maybe it is still hard to imagine how visitors from very faraway will be. But if the invasion was today, one of the aspects of our planet that would attract their attention would be how cybercriminals are different depending on the place of origin and the language that hackers use.

Info-Security magazine details the results of a study by Robert McArdle, from the research team Trend Micro. In the report –made public in an event organized by Cloudsec in London– he compared geographical differences among cybercrime groups worldwide. McArdle said the very first step for a good defense is to know your enemy, which begins with the detection of global trends regarding cyberattacks. This way, we will be able to be more protected. Although there are threats that go beyond geography itself, there are many differences among the attackers, depending on their origin.


McArdle didn’t classify them by countries, but he did mention cybercrime groups labeling them according to their language. Among them, there are Russian-speaking countries, English-speaking countries, China, Brazil, Japan and Germany. The first three groups would be the most powerful of all.

The Russians –including the state of Ukraine–  would be the pioneers. If Orson Welles was the first one to make people believe that aliens were coming, the Russians would be the pioneers in creating trends. They have been the first ones to traffic with stolen information and create a market for it. McArdle talked about the ‘eBay style’ market, where cybercriminals search for stolen goods either by geographic location or type.

In the case of China, it is easier to access criminal’s sources because everything is on the clear web (the dark web is blocked). Due to the language barrier, the main victims of these attacks are Chinese users. Another trend is the use of spam, including Point of Sale spam, as well as widespread use of ATM skimmers and pocket spammers. Most of these skimming devices are made in China, sold into the Latin American underground, and then used on victims in Europe", McArdle claimed.

English-speaking cybercrime includes UK, Canada and Australia, but it appears to be more focused on the United States. "Here there is more focus on physical goods, murder for hire and Denial of Service (DDoS) attack tools", McArdle said. Identity theft would be one of the most common attacks too.


Regarding Brazil, the market is less mature, but it is interesting to see the increasing number of online tutorials available for people who want to become cybercriminals. "Banking crime is huge is Brazil", McArdle assured. Those attacks start in Latin America and hit Europe 6 or 7 months later'. In the case of Germany, the traffic between this country and Russia is highlighted. The recent influx of refugees has provoked fake ID cards smuggling too.

Image Source: Freeimages

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