Cybercriminal organizations are willing to pay millions to skilled hackers and malware developers to help them in extortion campaigns. The analysis of posts on Dark Web forums shows that qualified hackers are being paid anything between $30,000 and $90,000 per month to assist the cybercrime gangs in committing crimes.
The big picture - According to a new report from security firm Digital Shadows, cybercriminal gangs are recruiting proficient hackers to help them in performing extortion campaigns against high-valued individuals.
In this case, they promise an amount of $30,000 per month. Apart from this, it is also found that there are few other threat actor groups who are willing to pay more than $64,000 per months to skilled hackers to aid them in various criminal activities. The said amount would go up to $90,000 per month if the newly ingested hackers continue to provide their services for the second year in a row.
Example: The Digital Shadow cited the case of a threat actor group named TDO which leverages the KickAss forum to hire qualified hackers.
“For purer extortionists, the threat actor TDO used the KickAss forum to recruit individuals with network management, penetration testing, and programming skills. TDO posted job advertisements with specifications and salaries that would rival those offered by most corporate businesses. Recruits were tempted with £50,000 ($64,000) per month, with add-ons and a final salary after the second year of £70,000 ($90,000) per month,” Digital Shadows explained in its report.
Why does it matter - The hackers not just draw salary depending on their technical skills. It was discovered that those with Chinese, Arabic or German skills could earn an added five percent on their salary or commission.
Experts believe that such high salaries could motivate skilled professionals in absconding bug bounty programs and joining the cybercrime arena.
Black markets play a crucial role in the cybercrime ecosystem. These markets offer blackmail and extortion guides for a price of less than $10. This can give ample opportunity for skilled professionals who wish to work alone.
The bottom line - According to Digital Shadows, extortion is a profitable business. One of the commonly practiced extortion business is the sextortion campaign. It allows cybercrooks to extort victims by threatening to publicly embarrass them for engaging in a sexually explicit act. Such campaigns have enabled the crooks to earn over $330,000 in 2018 alone.