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Black Markets For Hackers Continue To Expand

Update Date: Mar 26, 2014 08:13 AM EDT

Black and gray markets for computer hacking tools, services and byproducts which includes stolen credit card numbers are expanding at an alarming rate, according to a recent study. 

The study performed by RAND Corporation cited example of the recent December 2013 breach in which data form 40 million credit cards and 70 million user accounts were hijacked from retail giant Target servers. 

"Hacking used to be an activity that was mainly carried out by individuals working alone, but over the last 15 years the world of hacking has become more organized and reliable," said Lillian Ablon, lead author of the study and an information systems analyst at RAND, a nonprofit research organization in the press release. "In certain respects, cybercrime can be more lucrative and easier to carry out than the illegal drug trade."

The growth in cybercrime has been assisted by sophisticated and specialized markets that freely deal in the tools and the spoils of cybercrime, read the press release. The tools include exploit kits which are mainly software tools that can help create, distribute and manage attacks on systems worldwide, botnets - a group of compromised computers being remotely controlled by the central authority, and as-a-service models.

Researchers said that it was resilience and sophistication that makes these black markets notable. Consumers along with businesses have fortified their activities post security threats and after the recent law enforcement arrests, hackers are going after bigger targets. 

According to the study, "there will be more activity in "darknets," more checking and vetting of participants, more use of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to encrypting and protecting communications and transactions".

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