The demand for cloud computing has driven the growth of Everything-as-a-Service or XaaS. Providing users with easy deployment, accessibility, and cost savings paved ways for service providers to build everything from infrastructure to disaster recovery combined into a single center capability ‘as a service.’

Who knew the XaaS phenomenon would go beyond the legitimate and legal business world.

Cybercrime-as-a-service can be technically defined as criminal applications of the ‘as-a-service’ business model for online attackers. Such practices turn out to be dangerous, especially for newcomers who can easily launch an attack without bearing much technical knowledge. CaaS offerings include malware, botnets, hacking specialists, databases of stolen personal information, penetration testing of potential targets’ networks, open-source research, and a whole lot more.

The other names for CaaS include “attack-as-a-service,” “malware-as-a-service,” and “fraud-as-a-service.”

Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) service models

Following are some of the basic types of Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) service models –

1. Research-as-a-Service

  • Collecting victims’ information through legal or illegal means
  • Reselling stolen personal data or email addresses
  • Determining and selling zero-day vulnerabilities

2. Infrastructure-as-a-Service

  • Hosting malware on secure networks
  • Leveraging established botnets for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  • Hosting cloud operations

3. Crimeware-as-a-Service

  • Leasing on sophisticated exploits and other malware
  • Creating and deploying customized solutions
  • Tutorials explaining how to handle and defeat advanced cybersecurity defenses
  • Designing malware for niche markets

4. Hacking-as-a-Service

  • Fully outsourcing a complete cyberattack
  • Assisting with technical support for cybercriminal activities
  • Adding stolen data into a robust infrastructure
  • Tutorials for technical expertise needed for the attacks

5. Ransomware-as-a-Service

  • Selling ransomware used for attacks
  • Tutorials on how to use various ransomware variants
  • Leasing about ransomware operation infrastructure
  • Providing access to command-and-control (C and C) servers

6. Phishing-as-a-Service

  • Providing spyware and other malware for phishing attacks
  • Tutorials on performing phishing attacks
  • Leasing botnets to distribute phishing emails
  • Selling premade phishing forms and pages

Some facts on Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS)
Following are some of the essential facts business leaders should know about Cybercrime-as-a-Service. The facts show the phenomenon and explain views about the IT security threat landscape –

  • Buying and selling of Cybercrime-as-a-Service

There is a sub-layer called Dark Web, where users operate anonymously. It is a secret or untouched layer of the internet where very few users are allowed to enter. It is this place where aspiring cybercriminals access hacking tools and services.

Its anonymity feature has made Dark Web a pool of illegal activities. It is a normal activity for cybercriminals to visit Dark Web and connect with others to trade stolen credentials or other data, services, and tools that help them perform cyberattacks.

  • Tools, services traded in CaaS Market

Similar to the legal cloud services market with a different range of offerings, sellers in the cybercrime-as-service environment offer various services and tools.

Following lists some of the tools available in the cybercriminal world:

  • Password stealing programs
  • Exploit kits for lease (e.g., there are WordPress and Microsoft Office exploit kits for sale at daily, weekly, and monthly rates)
  • Botnets for rent
  • DDoS attacks as a service
  • Account hacking programs
  • Hacking-related tutorials
  • Cybersecurity, businesses preparing to defeat CaaS

Initially, a criminal who wanted to enter the cybercrime world needed to know how to code and even required technical knowledge of it. Which meant only a limited number of people had the authority to perform cyberattacks.

Additionally, they needed to spend some money on infrastructure, including installing a botnet for spreading spam and phishing emails. It further required breaking tons of computers with the help of malware and turning them into bots.

An increase in the growing CaaS market proved future cyberattackers need not possess tech-related expertise or talent to gain access to unauthorized sensitive data. Moreover, the easy availability of CaaS applications is also responsible for an increase in the number of cybercriminal populations. Such applications also assure cybercriminals of their strong growth.

Bottom line

Looking at the continuous emergence and advancements in IT security threats and the rapid growth of the new forms of malware and attacks, it becomes challenging for organizational bodies to keep track and maintain a strong cybersecurity strategy.

Next-generation firewalls, employee security training, security risk assessments, penetration testing, compliance as a service, endpoint protection are some of the solutions and services that can help IT service providers manage the situation.

Any individual or company should be aware of cybercrime. About 60 million Americans alone have succumbed to identity theft throughout time. It is estimated that an organization that gets breached can lose as much as USD 3.92 million. Almost 60% of enterprises are of the view that they are at the risk of compromising.

Even the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert S. Mueller III said, “There are only two types of companies—those that have been hacked and those that will be hacked.”

As a truly global threat, CaaS is a powerful and dangerous cybercrime tool. Potential victims should come together to work collaboratively and handle the situation if they wish to succeed. The world needs to design better cybercrime laws that should be worked upon strictly. Stakeholders must vow to work together to investigate threats as best they could. Governments and law enforcement agencies must share intel and know-how, especially since cybercrime often transcends boundaries and jurisdictions.

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