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Hackers likened to drug dealers

Thu, 1st Apr 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The hacking community has been compared to the drug cartels, in a new report from US-based security provider Imperva, with its supply chain divided up into researchers, farmers and dealers.

“A researcher's sole responsibility is to hunt for vulnerabilities in applications, frameworks, and products and feed their knowledge to malicious organisations for the sake of profit. In particular, they focus on browser vulnerabilities to optimise botnet infections,” the report says.

“A farmer's primary responsibility is to maintain and increase the presence of botnets in cyberspace. Farmers write botnet software and attempt to infect as many systems worldwide as possible.

“Dealers are tasked with the distribution of malicious payloads. The dealers rent botnets to conduct attacks aimed at extracting sensitive information and other more specialised tasks.

The rental agreement ranges from targeted one-time attacks to multiple, persistent, and coordinated assaults. This group also includes cybercriminals, who acquire sensitive information for the sole purpose of committing fraudulent transactions.

“Just as the Industrial Revolution brought massive change to legitimate business, industrialisation of hacking will strengthen the hand of cyber criminals. The intensity, complexity and probability of cyber attacks will only increase as hackers increase and fine tune their firepower.

Generals are notorious for their tendency to ‘fight the last war' by using the strategies and tactics of the past to achieve victory in the present. However, today's cyber warriors are still focused on stopping bad guys at the gates and continue to lose the hacking war. This task will remain impossible task in the face of a global, industrialised force.

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