Because of its longevity and technical sophistication, the Russian cybercriminal underground has long been the benchmark for threat researchers focused on studying cybercrime tactics and techniques; there is a plethora of publications dedicated to analyzing its economy and hacking forums. However, only a handful of studies have centered on the emerging threats and trends from other, less prominent, cybercriminal undergrounds.
Recent data shows that the Chinese cybercriminal underground’s profits exceeded US$15.1 billion in 2017, while causing more than $13.3 billion worth of damage relating to data loss, identity theft and fraud. Over the years, the McAfee Advanced Programs Group (APG) has observed Chinese non-state threat actor groups gradually transform from small local networks targeting mostly Chinese businesses and citizens to large, well-organized criminal groups capable of hacking international organizations.
The development of commercial-scale exploit toolkits and criminal networks that focus on monetization of malware have amplified the growing risks of cybercrime in the Asia Pacific region to include a DDoS attack against the People’s Bank of China in December 2013, a $1 billion SWIFT hack against Bangladesh Bank in February 2016 and a $60 million theft from Far Eastern International Bank in Taiwan in October 2017, to name just a few.