Online crime is a big business. Various estimates put the total cost of online crime worldwide in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
At Trend Micro, we’ve analyzed different aspects of online crime in depth. We’ve looked at the cybercrime underground economies of Russian, China and Brazil. And recently we’ve completed a comprehensive census and analysis of the Deep Web.
In understanding online crime it’s easy to overlook the most critical piece that enables it in the first place. The entities that give online criminals their online presence are the linchpin: if criminals can’t get and stay online, there is no online crime. The hosting services that provide the services that online criminals use are a key part of the equation. But like the infrastructure of legitimate business of the Internet, these hosting services are often at best an afterthought.
As part of our goal of enabling a better understand the threat environment and online criminals our Forward-Looking Threat Research (FTR) team has just completed a new paper that goes into detail in understanding how these hosting services that cater to criminals operate.
These services are popularly known as “Bulletproof Hosting Services” because one of their specialty offerings is to evade and thwart attempts to bring these malicious and/or criminal sites down. And like so much else related to the cybercrime underground economy these days, these services are achieving a level of capability and professionalism that matches that of their legitimate business counterparts.
In our new paper, our researchers explain the different kinds of offerings that bulletproof hosting services provide. Whether you’re looking for someone to host your malware, your command and control (C&C) server, even child pornography, for the right price, there’s someone out there who will not only put your content online but help keep it online.
One of the most interesting things our research shows is that bulletproof hosting services aren’t completely free of rules and guidelines. Like criminals in Fritz Lang’s movie “M”, most bulletproof hosting services draw the line where children are concerned: they won’t allow customers to post content that exploits children. And bulletproof hosting services regularly prohibit their customers from attacking people or organizations in their own country: a smart tactic that makes it less likely the local law enforcement will devote time and attention to shutting them down.
These are just some of the important facts about this critical but often-overlooked criminal enterprise that our new paper details. To get a fuller picture, be sure to read the full report.
Please add your thoughts in the comments below or follow me on Twitter; @ChristopherBudd.