Hacking-as-a-service – or HaaS as it is popularly known – is a fast-growing ‘business’ which is powering the ever-increasing hostile activity on the internet. These hackers provide their ‘services’ to anyone willing to pay them, which allows practically everyone to become a cybercriminal!
Pay and play
Hacking markets have existed for long in the dark web. But, they have now evolved into full-fledged marketplaces complete with an ecosystem that supports the business of cyber crime. Hacking marketplaces boast of people looking to outsource hacking, suppliers, and the actual hackers. And, as with any other marketplace, hackers compete amongst themselves to provide ‘satisfactory’ services to their ’employers’.
To make the service more professional, hackers are listed according to their skills. Based on the requirements and budget, one can select the hackers, enter into a contract and get started. Hacker marketplaces such as Hackers List feature a complaint mechanism and even offer money-back guarantee. Too many complaints against a hacker result in his removal from the list.
The website Alienspy makes hacking easy to enable persons with zero hacking skills to orchestrate an attack on his/her own. Then there are websites such as Real Deal that sell zero-day exploits.
Attack, make money, settle personal scores
Some of the common services that are outsourced through hacking marketplaces include distributed denial of service (DDoS), phishing, breaking into social media accounts of genuine users, hijacking telephone numbers, call blocking, disrupting communication networks, distributing malware, and controlling botnets. On the positive side, though, organizations are contracting services of professional hackers for ethical hacking—penetration testing of their own networks to find any security loopholes.
The rise of HaaS has made the cyber crime landscape complex and more sinister. This is because HaaS has created a pay-to-play environment that empowers amateurs and wannabe criminals to plan and launch attacks that are beyond their own skills and capabilities. This means that apart from financial heists, Hacking-as-a-service can be easily abused to take revenge and settle personal vendettas.
Defense against Hacking-as-a-Service
In an increasingly complex threat landscape, organizations need to devise strategies that enable them to:
- Build resilience to attacks: Although complete protection from cyber threats is nearly impossible, organizations that are agile and quick to detect and remediate risks will have a competitive advantage edge over the others.
- Identify threat areas: This threat intelligence will help inform risk assessment and devise appropriate defense strategies.
- Train the staff: Employees can either be the first line of defense or the weak links depending on how they are trained to handle security risks. Regular and frequent security training combined with strict implementation of security policies can help minimize the risks to an organization.
The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant
She can be reached on LinkedIn.