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New threat report uncovers growing shared economy in cyber criminal underground

BlackBerry Limited released the 2022 BlackBerry Annual Threat Report, highlighting a cyber criminal underground which has been optimised to better target local small businesses.

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Wed, 16 Feb 2022
New threat report uncovers growing shared economy in cyber criminal underground
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The report also uncovers cyber breadcrumbs from some of last year’s most notorious ransomware attacks, suggesting some of the biggest culprits may have simply been outsourced labour.

According to Eric Milam, vice-president of research and intelligence at BlackBerry, criminals are working out how to target consumers better.

"The infrastructure of the cyber underground has evolved so they can deliver more timely and personalised deceptions to the public.


“This infrastructure has also incubated a criminal shared economy, with threat groups sharing and outsourcing malware allowing for attacks to happen at scale.

"In fact, some of the biggest cyber incidents of 2021 look to have been the result of this outsourcing," Milam said.

Key findings of the 2022 BlackBerry Annual Threat Report include:

Small businesses are an increasing focus of attack

Small businesses will continue to be an epicentre for cyber criminal focus as SMBs face upward of 11 cyber threats per device per day, which only stands to accelerate as cyber criminals increasingly adopt collaborative mindsets.

Public cloud platforms are unwittingly hosting malware

An increasing number of payloads are being housed in public cloud platforms. The majority of these payloads are highly malleable, meaning these can be cheaply customised. This trend was especially prevalent in North America, where local hosting of vicious payloads including Cobalt Strike surged.

2021’s biggest attacks may have been outsourced

In multiple incidents, BlackBerry identified threat actors leaving behind playbook text files containing IP addresses and more, suggesting the authors of this year’s sophisticated ransomware are not the ones carrying out attacks. This highlights the growing shared economy within the cyber underground.

What’s old is new – with a twist

The proliferation of digital channels has brought old tactics – such as phishing and watering hole attacks – back into the mainstream, primarily because of their ability to scale. This suggests these tactics will continue to see relevance as digital innovations like the metaverse and increased AR solutions come to market.

Following in the footsteps of the Biden administration’s recently rolled out zero trust strategy, widespread adoption of a zero trust mentality and a frictionless approach to security for end users is imperative across all sectors.

With damage from the SolarWinds scandal still lingering, this path forward shows that the government is looking ahead to how existing tactics will be leveraged in the new year alongside of potential new risks in quantum computing, the metaverse, connected vehicles and beyond, while removing barriers to zero trust adoption.

[Related: Macquarie Government appoints defence and national security growth strategist]

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