Successful ways of undermining cybercrime ecosystems

Most cybercrime is carried out by a loose confederation of independent contractors who work together when necessary through online forums and “partnerkas” that allow them to pool their resources, but these online criminal networks can be foiled, according to a new report by the Digital Citizens Alliance.

The report sheds light on how global organized crime leverages the Internet for scams and other schemes that hurt consumers. It also highlights recent examples in which others have weakened the glue that binds these criminal communities together by undermining trust relationships, isolating and apprehending key members, and making it more difficult for them to receive payment for their crimes.

Tackling counterfeits, content theft and intellectual property crime requires disrupting their channels of cooperation and payment. The easiest way to deter cybercriminals? Following the money and cutting off the payment source.

The key pillars that support most criminal commerce online, includes black market online bazaars, cybercrime joint ventures, and underground exchanges. Other report findings show that cybercriminals:

Work through forums and “partnerkas” (when mutually beneficial): These online forums allow independent actors to pool their resources, aimed at creating personal wealth, power and greater access to the tools that may further future online criminal schemes.

Diversify their operations: Some of the most successful criminals are those who diversify their operations. An average crime forum member has ties to multiple types of illegal or illicit online enterprises.

Use pharmacy, malware, counterfeiting, and dating as popular schemes: Most forums feature a myriad of services for driving traffic to crime affiliate programs including rogue pharmacy sites, fake antivirus or ransomware affiliate programs, counterfeit software and prescription drugs, organized dating and reshipping scams, toll fraud and SMS billing schemes.

“The most uplifting part of this report are the examples of the digital community working with payment processors to stop and deter cybercrime,” said Tom Galvin , executive director of Digital Citizens Alliance. “With this report, we want digital citizens to know that they play a significant role in combatting crime on the Web. It doesn’t take just law enforcement. Anyone can help take down a cybercrime ecosystem through established reporting methods with payment card networks.”

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