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March 2, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 7:59am

Deep Web revealed: Cybercriminal underground is not global, but diverse and country-specific

News: Canadian underground primarily sells fake/stolen documents, while murder-for-hire or assassination services can only be seen in North America.

By CBR Staff Writer

A report has found that the cybercriminal underground market is not global, but rather a diverse economy with various markets unique to the country or region in which it serves.

While studying the cyber underworld in Russia, Japan, China, Germany, North America (US and Canada), and Brazil, Trend Micro has found that there is nothing akin to a "global cybercriminal underground market".

Commenting on the research findings, Trend Micro’s global threat communications manager Christopher Budd said: "Most importantly, it highlights each underground’s unique character and how that character reflects the culture that underground operates in.

"Crime is ultimately a social phenomenon (albeit an anti-social one): so criminal activity is culturally conditioned and differentiated."

According to the report, the Russian underground could be compared to a well-functioning assembly line where each player has a role to play and where automation is the name of the game.

Taking its cue from the Russian underground market, Germany was found to be a niche market boasting of wares (treuhand services and stolen Packstation accounts) that are uniquely German.

Called a ‘leader in cybercrime innovation’ by Trend Micro, the Chinese underground can be considered a prototype hub, selling not just the latest in software and services but also hardware.

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The Japanese underground was found to veer away from the traditional – creating and distributing malware for example – instead catering to those looking for the taboo.

Cyber criminals in Brazil on the other hand focus on the banking Trojans and look to take "fastest route to cybercriminal superstardom".

Most of cyber criminals in Brazil are young and bold and don’t show any regard for the law which is evident from the way they use the Surface Web and social media sites like Facebook and other public forums and apps.

Contrasting with popular opinion, North America is not a locked vault accessible only to the tech-savviest of hackers, but rather open and visible to both cybercriminals and law enforcement.

Despite the nonexistence of a global underground market, cybercriminals worldwide were found to collaborate with one another. Trend Micro found that they share tools, intel, know-how, and even best practices with peers. One such tool common across markets is the Deep Web, which better guarantees anonymity.

Although Trend Micro’s study found that cybercriminals from every corner of the world take advantage of the anonymity of the Deep Web, infrastructure and skill differences affect how far into the Deep Web each underground market has gone.

Chinese cybercriminals, for instance, do not rely on the Deep Web as much as their German and North American counterparts do. This could, however, be due to the fact that the "great firewall" of China prevents its citizens (even the tech-savviest of its cybercrooks)
from accessing the Deep Web. The fact that Germany and North America more strictly implement cybercrime laws may have something to do with their greater reliance on the Deep Web, too.


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