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New report says the German cyber criminal underground market is well managed

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December 14, 2015

Internet security firm Trend Micro says that the underground cyber crime market in Germany is a very overlooked but unique illegal segment that works in tandem with other cyber criminals in Russia to serve fraud-interested newcomers and hackers alike.

And the trend appears to be growing rapidly. In one of the few examinations into German cybercrime forums, a team of Trend Micro specialists say that the cybercrime environment is the most developed and one of the best managed in the European Union.

Unsurprisingly, Trend Micro adds that hackers in Germany and Russia are better and more capable than the ones in Spain and France.

TM's researchers investigated ten cybercrime forums housing about 70,000 registered users of which about 20,000 were considered active and covered the findings in the paper U-Markt-- Peering into the German Cybercriminal Underground.

"Overall, the German cyber criminal underground market segment is well-developed and well-managed by professional and semi-professional hackers, even though it remains a very small niche community in number compared with the Russian and Brazilian underground markets," the researchers added.

"It is indeed a newcomer underground market that offers just about everything cybercriminals need to start in the internet criminal business," the team of researchers added.

"In several ways, we believe that German and Russian cyber criminals collaborate with one another to perform their illicit acts," they said.

Viruses, malware, remote access trojans, bank-stealers, various worms and backdoors can all be acquired for little money, alongside stolen password dumps, credit cards from across Europe, and all manner of drugs and illegal arms and ammunition.

Fake passports, hundreds of databases of compromised personal information, and even illegal hosting services are also on offer on those forums.

However, the scene in Germany even offers so-called packstation services where the country's postal service can be used as dead drops.

In such locations, cyber criminals can easily leave packages for buyers and remove the need for droppers, the name given to criminals who for a small fee will cash out stolen credit cards through buying said goods.

And if that's not enough, the service is even more secure and convenient (the forums claim) than the riskier so-called dropper services used in other crime locations in other countries.

"And users’ addresses cannot be tracked though they need to apply for the service using a home address and a mobile phone number, which are easy to fake, so they can still receive SSM message notifications, along with their pTANs to claim their parcels," Trend Micro says.

Various cyber crime sites in Germany are also unique for the high number of coders and programmers offering their skills and experience to build websites, internet apps and various malware to unsuspecting users.

TM's researchers say the older forum models are being replaced by slicker Silk Road-looking market places. Those off-the-shelf offerings make it easier for newcomers and those interested in standard fare web crime, while forums are still the 'rendez-vous' of choice for custom services catering to the cybercrime community.

Additionally, the most developed German crime sites even offer mirrors on the Tor hidden service network, offering criminals and even wider market scope.

Trend Micro has also dumped an extensive list of hacker usernames for specific forums which will most likely be a real delight for other crime investigators. We'll keep you updated on these and other developments.

Source: Trend Micro.

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