Is cybercrime gang driven?

A new report from cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes reveals not only an increase in cybercrime in 2017, but also an increasing shift toward gang-driven hacking and cyber attacks. The report, The New Mafia: Gangs and Vigilantes, explains that organized gangs of cyber-criminals are taking advantage of their willingness to intimidate and paralyze victims by stealing sensitive information from hacked devices.

In its latest report, Malwarebytes identifies four distinct types of cyber-criminals: traditional gangs, state-sponsored attackers, ideological hackers and hackers-for-hire. The report claims that the introduction of new types of participants into the cybercrime landscape has caused a shift from individual, isolated attacks to more pervasive cybercrime orchestrated by groups and gangs.

Likening these groups of cyber-criminals to the criminal gangs that dominated cities like New York in the 1930s, the report describes how this new breed of cyber-criminals have increasingly “resorted to fear, intimidation and a feeling of helplessness to achieve their aims” to achieve riches and power. Pointing out similarities to the Mafia and other mobsters who would strong-arm and intimidate businesses for financial gain, the report describes cyber-criminals who are “taking command of computers and sensitive personal information to threaten victims.”

In terms of cybercrime occurrences, the research also reveals that the volume of cyber attacks increased in 2017, with the number of attacks recorded to October already exceeding the total number of attacks recorded for the entirety of 2016. Overall, there was a 96 percent increase in attacks compared to the previous year, and the average number of monthly attacks increased by 23 percent.

In the report, Malwarebytes advocates a shift from “shaming” businesses that have been the victims of cybercrime, towards a new form of resistance against cyber-criminals via improved collective awareness, knowledge sharing and proactive defenses. The report portrays this as both consumers and businesses becoming the “new vigilantes” to combat the “new gangs”.

Highlighting the increasing need for businesses to be aware and alert to the dangers posed by cybercrime, Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski said: “In spite of high-profile occurrences over the last year, this report shows that many business executives may still have some knowledge gaps to fill. CEOs will soon have little choice but to elevate cybercrime from a technology issue to a business-critical consideration.”