Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

4/23/2020
04:00 PM
Kurtis Minder
Kurtis Minder
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

How the Dark Web Fuels Insider Threats

New decentralized, criminal marketplaces and "as-a-service" offerings make it easy for employees to monetize their knowledge and access to enterprise networks and systems.

Most enterprises think about the Dark Web as a giant market for cybercrime — exploits, hacking services, stolen data marketplaces, and so on. While this is true, there are other elements that might not be so apparent but are equally problematic for enterprises: malicious insiders looking for an easy way to monetize their knowledge and access.

Two simultaneous trends are opening new areas of profound risk to enterprises via the Dark Web: It is becoming both decentralized and democratized. Together, these two movements are converging to create a real problem, particularly as they pertain to insider threats.

Trend 1: Exit scams and market takedowns have caused a decentralization of Dark Web commercial activities. Instead of seeing giant marketplaces today, which can be taken down by law enforcement with meaningful impact, you instead see the equivalent of fair booths where threat actors sell their wares as independent vendors. Some are even moving to alternate channels, such as Discord, Telegram, and OpenBazaar, to further evade law enforcement. All of this activity makes it more difficult than ever for enterprises to uncover breaches and other indicators of compromise in the criminal economy, including those perpetrated by malicious insiders.

Trend 2: The democratization of cybercrime is making the Dark Web much easier to use. Today, people with limited technical skills can simply subscribe to services that will carry out their malfeasance for them. From an insider-threat perspective, this trend has also made it easy for insiders to monetize their knowledge and access, simply by participating in the many "as-a-service" offerings on the Dark Web or by directly promoting access to enterprise networks and systems. Just in the last couple of weeks, our researchers have seen several insider-related offerings that should resonate with many companies. These include:

  • Insider-trading-as-a-service sites. These have been relatively common over the last few years. Typically, for a fee, subscribers get access to a steady stream of insider information. The most recent site we found offers one-time tips for $500 or an annual subscription for one bitcoin, currently valued north of $7,000. Subscribers also receive instructions on how to execute trades without getting caught by regulators. And the site actively recruits insiders to share material information. In some cases, they are paid for these tips, and in others they are simply granted free access to the insider trading site. Insider trading is often thought of as a white-collar crime executed by high-level executives and financiers. However, when one considers how many staff members in the typical enterprise have access to non-public material information (legal, accounting, investor relations, IT, marketing, sales, etc.), the addressable market for this type of site — both people selling their insider information and those acting on it — is enormous.

  • Access to a live travel database with millions of credit card credentials. One insider, mostly likely an IT professional, offered access to the customer database of an online travel site. Unlike typical data breach dumps where the data can go stale over time, in this case, the person was offering live access to the database. So, in theory, bad actors could siphon off credit card credentials indefinitely (at least until the insider gets caught). Access was being sold for 1,500 euros.

  • Access to a hedge fund trading algorithm. This was an interesting one. An insider at a hedge fund was selling access to the company's "crown jewel" trading algorithm for $300,000, advertising how it had beaten the market for several years. Subscribers would receive credentials to gain access to the algorithm, and then they could do their own research or simply mimic the hedge fund's investing strategy to reap the same benefits as its clients (without the management fees, of course). This is a different kind of intellectual property theft — not "stealing" anything, per se, but instead, using a company's proprietary technology for personal gain.

In each of these cases, security technology is of limited use in catching the threat actors because there is no technology that can stop someone from walking out the door with insider information in their head or system credentials scribbled on a piece of paper. However, technology-enabled human intelligence operatives can find this activity on the Dark Web using counterintelligence and cyber reconnaissance techniques. And after the employer knows about it, there is a clear process to narrow down the potential culprits and put a stop to the problem. Using the intelligence data as evidence, the enterprise security and fraud teams pinpoint the systems that were accessed, correlate access with access management logs, and narrow down the potential suspects.

All of this leads us to the ultimate irony of today's Dark Web — as the new trends of decentralization and democratization make it significantly more dangerous to enterprises, the best countermeasure isn't fancy new technology; it's human intelligence accelerated by technology.

Related Content:

A listing of free products and services compiled for Dark Reading by Omdia analysts to help meet the challenges of COVID-19. 

Kurtis Minder is the co-founder and CEO of GroupSense, an enterprise digital risk protection company. He is also a frequent contributor to the start-up community and serves as an advisor and mentor to growing companies. He arrived at GroupSense after more than 20 years in ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/31/2020
Block/Allow: The Changing Face of Hacker Linguistics
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  7/27/2020
Out-of-Date and Unsupported Cloud Workloads Continue as a Common Weakness
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/28/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-14310
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-31
There is an issue on grub2 before version 2.06 at function read_section_as_string(). It expects a font name to be at max UINT32_MAX - 1 length in bytes but it doesn't verify it before proceed with buffer allocation to read the value from the font value. An attacker may leverage that by crafting a ma...
CVE-2020-14311
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-31
There is an issue with grub2 before version 2.06 while handling symlink on ext filesystems. A filesystem containing a symbolic link with an inode size of UINT32_MAX causes an arithmetic overflow leading to a zero-sized memory allocation with subsequent heap-based buffer overflow.
CVE-2020-5413
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-31
Spring Integration framework provides Kryo Codec implementations as an alternative for Java (de)serialization. When Kryo is configured with default options, all unregistered classes are resolved on demand. This leads to the "deserialization gadgets" exploit when provided data contains mali...
CVE-2020-5414
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-31
VMware Tanzu Application Service for VMs (2.7.x versions prior to 2.7.19, 2.8.x versions prior to 2.8.13, and 2.9.x versions prior to 2.9.7) contains an App Autoscaler that logs the UAA admin password. This credential is redacted on VMware Tanzu Operations Manager; however, the unredacted logs are a...
CVE-2019-11286
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-31
VMware GemFire versions prior to 9.10.0, 9.9.1, 9.8.5, and 9.7.5, and VMware Tanzu GemFire for VMs versions prior to 1.11.0, 1.10.1, 1.9.2, and 1.8.2, contain a JMX service available to the network which does not properly restrict input. A remote authenticated malicious user may request against the ...