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Cyber black market 'mirrors' legitimate free market

Juniper report provides insight into workings of global cyber black market

Cyber black market 'mirrors' legitimate free market
The report said that there is an intense vetting process to validate people, products and payments in the black market

The global cyber black market has a mature economy that mirrors that of other free markets in terms of both innovation and growth, according to insights recently released by Juniper Networks.

In a global report sponsored by the vendor and conducted by the RAND Corporation, Juniper said that the cyber black market constituted a growing multi-billion dollar economy. The vendor added that the market featured a robust infrastructure and social organisation.

The report said that there is an intense vetting process to validate people, products and payments in the black market. This is because the cyber black market is plagued by ‘criminals' - people trying to swindle cyber-criminals doing real work, or ‘rippers'. According to the report, rippers do not provide the goods or services they claim to.

The report estimated that up to 30% of sellers on the cyber black market are rippers, hence the need for a robust black market infrastructure.

Indeed, like consumer goods, black market products come with guarantees including lifespan and value, and they also have ‘terms of use', the report said. Black market vendors can better track what a customer does with their product to make sure ‘terms of use' are not broken - considered a sort of ‘digital rights management'.

As a result of this, the report said that the black market could be much more profitable than even the illegal drugs trade. Links to end-users are more direct, and worldwide distribution, being electronic, is of no consequence, the report said. And certain digital assets, such as credit card information, can be sold to multiple customers, where as physical assets (such as drugs) can only be sold once.

Other parallels between the cyber black market and the above-board market include the fact that, like old products in a regular store, old data goes on clearance. Credit card data prices may start at $20 per record if there is a limited supply or $10 to $12 if there is an influx. But when data gets stale, it may go on sale for $7 per record.

The report added that card data from the Middle East is considered to be of less value than counterparts from other countries. European cards are considered the most valuable as these cards tend to have higher limits.

"Juniper's collaboration with RAND has unearthed a fascinating insight into the dark arts of these cyber criminals," said Adrian Pickering, vice president for the Middle East and Africa, Juniper Networks.

"The research has allowed us to learn the secrets of these sophisticated criminal networks, which the report has dubbed the ‘Hacker Bazaar'. We must disrupt the economics of hacking so we can break the value chains that drive successful attacks."

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