With nothing more than a standard Web browser, cybercriminals can find personal, private information all over the public Internet. It isn't just legitimate services - from genealogy sites to public records and social media - that can be mined and exploited for nefarious purposes. Openly malicious criminal activities are also happening on the public Internet.
True, much of the cybercrime underground consists of private and established communities that don't appear in a normal search engine and are not accessible by regular users without special authorization.
However, according to the team at identity protection and fraud detection provider CSID, there are different levels of cybercriminal resources - and not all are so tightly protected. The quality and quantity of the more easily accessible forums are still high, say the CSID team, and anyone can access content such as stolen credit cards, cyberattack tools, and even advanced malware, which can be leveraged with minimal technical know-how required.
Adam Tyler, chief innovation officer at CSID, describes how black-market organizations are becoming more like traditional online businesses we visit and buy from every day. “For example," he says, "many sites now have their own Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube pages to advise their member base on new attacks and tools that are available.”
Data sold on criminal marketplaces “age quickly, meaning that once the information is stolen, it has to be used for fraudulent purposes quickly,” says Christopher Doman, consulting analyst at Vectra Networks. “The more times the information is abused for fraud, the more the information will be devalued.”
“Companies should have these marketplaces monitored, looking for trends in data breaches and attacks as well as to see if any of their data has been compromised,” says Carefree Solutions’s CEO Paul San Soucie. “One point that I’m not sure is evident is that there is more public and Dark Web research than any one IT person can handle. Researching and absorbing this information requires significant training and experience. Even large US banks that have dedicated security staff are not able to do some of the research and analysis that specialized reconnaissance teams can perform.”
San Soucie nevertheless suggests treading carefully when doing this research. "While you can get to most of these sites using standard https, I still consider them dark and strongly recommend accessing them via a VPN as both criminal and government sources track access in some cases.”
Read on for a collection of some of the popular sites where private data, credentials, and attack tools are up for sale, or even for free download.