Nine in 10 (90%) users of dark web forums are searching for a hacker who can provide them with a particular resource or who can download a user database. This is according to new research by Positive Technologies, which analyzed activity on the 10 most prominent forums on the dark web, which offer services such as website hacking and the buying/selling of databases.
The study highlights the growing demand for hackers’ services and stolen data, exacerbated by the increased internet usage by both organizations and individuals since the start of COVID-19.
Gaining access to a web resource was found to be the most common goal of dark web forum users, with this making up 69% of ad inquiries. Obtaining user or client databases from a targeted resource was the next most frequent type of inquiry, comprising 21% of all ads. The researchers noted that the parties most interested in acquiring this type of information were competitors and spammers who collect lists of addresses for targeted phishing attacks aimed at a specific audience.
Just 7% of forum messages involved individuals offering their services to hack websites while 3% were focused on promoting hacking tools, programs and finding like-minded people for sharing hacking experience.
Positive Technologies analyst Yana Yurakova commented: “Since March 2020, we have noticed a surge of interest in website hacking, which is seen by the increase in the number of ads on forums on the dark web. This may have been caused by an increase in the number of companies available via the internet, which was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this, organizations that previously worked offline were forced to go online in order to maintain their customers and profits, and cyber-criminals, naturally, took advantage of this situation.”
Vadim Solovyov, senior information security analyst at Positive Technologies, added: “Insufficient web application security and the ability of criminals to easily find an experienced hacker or a ready-made tool for hacking a web resource pose an undoubted threat to both users and companies. Hacking a company’s web applications can lead to global consequences, ranging from data leaks to penetrating the company’s local network and using its resources in subsequent attacks.”