Cyber crime is a very effective way of making a lot of money fast, because it involves less risk and is more rewarding. We live in an age where everything is situating online. We have a new online currency, the bitcoin, we have encrypted methods of online payment, and we’ve got certificate and signature systems. And now when the smartphones have become wallets, we face a new era of funds transfers. This is all nice and dandy. However, we need to focus on the downside of that – cybercrime. It develops along with the technology and has become very widespread.
Cybercrime has cost us around 400 billion dollars so far, and this is more than some countries are worth. In this article, we reveal to you what are the most profitable schemes for making money online illegally.
Earning a Living From Cybercrime
When it comes to cybercrime, people have invested a lot of money in the last couple of years to protect themselves and their businesses. However, if a cybercriminals finds an opportunity they immediately may take advantage of it and cause users a lot of headaches. There are many strategies that the cybercriminals employ, all of them extremely useful. Cybercriminals choose methods of distribution depending on what the scam or the infection is.
Step 1: Infecting the user. This can happen most likely via spam attacks, phishing attacks, social media malvertising, drive-by downloads and other methods.
Step 2: Scanning the infected computer for relevant files and documents and encrypting them by using a secure encryption algorithm. Most ransomware viruses use the AES or RSA encryption algorithms. The AES is a bit weaker, and its most debilitated bit encryption can be decrypted in a suitable time for the victim. The RSA algorithm, used by the Cryptowall variants, is the one of the strongest encryption algorithms that may take from days to years to decrypt if your computer survives until then. So if this algorithm encrypts your files, the chances of you decrypting them are very slim. Several security researchers, however, have managed to find new ways of decrypting RSA algorithm by using a unique technique – for more information on that, check this report.
Step 3: Leaving a ransom note. The final step that closes a ransomware infection is the deletion of its source files that infected the PC initially, breaking any active connection and leaving a ransom note. Usually most ransomware viruses leave notes, saying something, like:
→Your files have been encrypted with a strong encryption. For more information on how to decrypt your records, contact this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
But the new ransomware viruses feature applications with active timers that give a deadline to the victim. They claim that after that time expires either the fee will double or the unlock keys corresponding to the encrypted files will be deleted. This plus the instructions to use Tor-based networks are the perfect mix for untraceable online extortion.
Even though ransomware attacks are very devastating, there are countermeasures and ways to protect your data from such attacks.
These type of schemes vary, but one thing in common in them is the fact that the web site provided may get paid based on how many clicks have been generated by clicking on an advertised content. There are a lot of suspicious networks that develop a network of websites and adware unwanted applications to boost either their traffic or the traffic of their clients for money as well. Bundling mostly distributes them. Bundling is the combination of these apps with the installers of free software that is provided by third-party sites. It is done as a part of a marketing campaign to generate profit to the third-party site.
Here is how a pay-per-click fraud works:
Step 1: You download and install your favorite media player or any other freeware from a third-party site, instead of its official site. It may or may not feature an installation step, containing opt-in boxes or ‘I Agree’ buttons. Such may say ‘Include this program as a free extra’ or something in similarity.
Step 2: The adware program may employ cookies. Cookies are small text files that collect different information from the user, regarding his browsing habits, online clicks and so on. This is called behavioral advertising and aims to target the user with advertisements based on his interests.
Step 3: Advertising. Yes, the most annoying part of it all. It features different ads, varying from unnoticeable but effective highlighted website words that lead to fake search engines or third-party sites to the most intrusive redirects and pop-ups you could ever imagine.
Sometimes Pay-per-click fraud may also be indirectly dangerous to the user’s PC. That is due to the fact that it is usually connected with third-party sites that sometimes may contain malware. They either download it on the user PC or directly inject it, using a drive-by download strategy. More to that, such programs may hide behind shady privacy policies that give them permission to collect any information from users and share them for business purposes. This is why the best countermeasure against those adverts is a reliable anti-malware program that regularly updates its definition and features an active shield against intrusions.
Fake Online Protection Software
This type of software usually features rogue antivirus applications that are often being bundled or downloaded from redirects. There are some cases of users reporting to be redirected to webpages that display fake virus alerts or fake BSOD messages prompting to download the software.
Rogue antivirus programs usually may do nothing at all when it comes to detecting and removing viruses. On the contrary, they slow the computer down, may display advertisements and redirects. But the main purpose of these apps is to get the user to buy their full versions. This is usually done by taking out a computer scan and displaying false threat detections that may only be removed by purchasing the full version. More so, they may modify different user settings that prevent them from being deleted in a typical way.
As a countermeasure against those applications, it is advisable that the users inform themselves regularly on the latest threats of this type or download an actual advanced anti-malware program that will remove any traces of such unwanted spamming software.
Stealing Login Information
Credentials theft and distribution for profits has been raising concerns lately, and many social networks have reported that they detect hacked accounts very regularly. Information theft may be done via two main ways:
- Malware on the computer that automatically collects it.
- Fake website or toolbar that prompts phishing logins or cookies that collect any user entered information.
- Phishing emails that imitate a real website or service, aiming to get the user to trust them and input his details in a fake phishing website, resembling the actual one.
It is crucial to pay attention when it comes to your login information. It is highly recommended to not login by using a third-party service of unknown origin or a custom program since it can steal your credentials. Also, always look for the ”HTTPs://” indicator at the beginning of the address of the page you are logging into. This is a clear indication that the web page uses an encryption and is protected. Make sure you also check out the web link’s legitimacy.
Social Media Spam
These type of spam attacks drain a lot of funds from social network users. Security companies report that cyber-criminals use bots that distribute automatic spam messages that usually contain malicious links that may lead to various places. One of those scams is a Facebook spam, featuring small humanoids. Some of those scams may request the user to give them post permission, and this is another way of spamming users. And what is worse is that most users tend to open what their online friends post since they believe it is ok to see.
A good way to protect yourself from social media spam is to observe for automatic messages and always check the weblinks for legitimacy, using sites such as www.virustotal.com, for example. Another key symptom of such web sites is connected with observing what a redirect site may require from you. In case it needs special permissions, prompts the download of a plugin or any other software or requires a login with your credentials, you should not trust such site and should immediately leave it and report it.
There has been a recent boom in banking malware since it is the new form of bank robbery. There have been cases of hackers stealing up to 1 billion dollars using malware. Similar to ransomware, it includes Trojan Horses. However, these types of Trojans are more sophisticated, and such attacks are way more organized than your regular infections. The aim remains the same, however – obtaining the user’s financial information.
Many of those attacks have evolved to smartphones since the new technology allows for online banking from your pocket. More, so people can pay with smartphones nowadays, and all the attackers need to have control of their funds is the victim’s username and password.
Authorities continue to improve the protection by investing millions in online security. They employ strongly encrypted certificates, firewalls, simultaneous login prevention protocols and other traps to catch any theft attempts. But even though it is sophisticated and risky, this type of money theft is very rewarding.
Automated SMS Scams
One unique method which attackers use is SMS based scamming. What they do is they may collect your cell phone number via a free app on your smartphone or an online site that prompts your to enter it. Once this is done, cyber criminals may register you for a rather expensive SMS service. There have been cases where cyber criminals utilize smartphone malware to send messages to such service which may charge the user funds. Some cybercrooks charge multiple users at once with little resources but for longer periods of time. Huge profits may be generated continuously using such attacks on a massive scale for short periods of time.
A good way to protect yourself is to not share your numbers and always observe what permissions free aps require from you. Also, it is a good strategy to download an anti-malware program on your smartphone as well.
Product Selling Schemes
These types of websites are very high both in numbers and ways of working. The most typical situation is when a cyber-criminal sets up a website that features real or non-existent products and uses adware or malware campaigns on a massive scale. This is done with the purpose to drive traffic to his website This type of scheme is very closely related to the Pay-per-click systems since they both utilize similar software to reach their goals.
As to the selling websites, the cybercriminals used to implement a strategy, going by the name of drop-shipping. This is a very smart strategy since the product seller has no actual involvement in the product he or she is selling. For example, you want to buy a smartphone. After you have sent the cyber-scammer funds, he may use a lesser amount of those to buy the same product from a shopping site, such as eBay, for example and send it directly to the address you provided. After that, the cyber-crook just takes the remaining funds for him, closing out the deal.
The moral lesson from this type of schemes is always to perform your research before making online transfers to third party sites.
Along with technology in our lives, crime has dramatically changed as well. Cybercriminals utilize a different type of malware according to their end means. This also means that there are different cybercriminals, based on the software they provide. According to Sophos’s security report, cyber criminals and their methods are continuing to evolve, and we should focus on protection against them. And I am not talking about security in means of how much you are going to invest. No, it is more about the user and his browsing habits. Because if a user is cautious and keeps up to date with the latest threats and means of protection. And you should always keep anti-malware protection close-by because it will increase your chances of detecting future threats significantly.
Spy Hunter scanner will only detect the threat. If you want the threat to be automatically removed, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool.Find Out More About SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool / How to Uninstall SpyHunter