[Avis d’expert] Cybercrime, from industrialization to professionalization

The computer systems of hospitals hacked in the midst of a health crisis, the University of Maastricht paralyzed by a cyber attack, MMA, Orange, France TV targeted by ransomware… Here are a few examples among many others to illustrate a mass criminal threat that seems to develop on an international scale. If it is topical, the phenomenon is not new, but the media coverage of these cyberattacks highlights a pirate sector with a formidable organization.

Malware optimization is not new

Developing a virus, Trojan, or ransomware to use it only once can be laborious and unprofitable. In the malware industry, we are also looking to optimize performance. As early as 2014, massive attacks took place, with hackers choosing their victims and targeting them simultaneously. At that time, we realized that the attack paths were more or less always the same: hackers tended to federate, to exchange information and lines of code.

Concretely, any somewhat learned hacker could obtain hacking kits (called “exploits” and corresponding to the ways of exploiting a security breach), which he would then use according to his objectives. We could already distinguish two main types of cybercriminals (which are the same today): those who target specific customers and personalize the attacks, and those who are in a volumetric approach. Today, the interconnection of users and platforms facilitates mass attacks. With our different accounts Google, Facebook or TikTok, our e-mail addresses, our bank cards and our online accounts, we have become products, and therefore targets of choice for large-scale operations.

The explosion in Internet use has led to an increase in attacks. Over the years, the number of exploits available on the web has decreased, but their frequency of use has increased. Then the arrival of cryptolockers and ransomware enriched the possibilities of cyber attacks.

Let’s face it, the industrialization of cybercrime is already a well-established reality!

The darkweb also has its LinkedIn

As we have seen, cybercrime is a business like any other, with its constraints of profitability, automation and the race for development. Since its inception, the hacking sector has been structured: kiosks, stores, malware distribution channels, marketing strategies, offers and competition … all hidden from the general public and financed by increasingly greedy for-profit organizations. The great collaboration between pirates is now a thing of the past. The latter are now found in a logic of competition, and the darkweb also has its LinkedIn. You have to know how to put yourself in the market, to be seen to be solicited.

This is where certain displays of force come in. The recent leak Nintendo is a convincing example. Numerous documents internal to the creator of Super Mario have landed on the web, revealing design secrets so far jealously kept by the company. In itself, this information has no value other than symbolic, but its exfiltration offers a publicity of choice to the hacker at the origin of the leak. If he is not going to be able to resell the information, he has brilliantly put forward his skills. Smart, flexible and adaptable, cybercriminals are at the forefront of R&D, ready to be the first to attack whenever an opportunity arises.

Anticipate integration to better protect yourself

Hackers are always one step ahead, but resistance is building. Until 2010, we mainly sought to protect ourselves from the outside, in a punitive security approach. Today, we work in a cloud environment, and cybercriminals will seek information directly there. The only real way to fight is to integrate security early in the design of a business tool.

Businesses need to stop thinking of security as just a cost center. The tools must be developed by thinking directly of the security bricks, and not by integrating them in a second step. Especially since deploying security downstream costs more than if it is integrated directly into the purchase. Why develop a posteriori reverse proxy mechanisms when they could have been a key component of the initial project? It is a whole thought process that must be reviewed within companies.

By Jacques-Bruno Delaroche, pre-sales engineer at Exclusive Networks

Expert opinions are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way commit the editorial staff of L’Usine Nouvelle.

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