According to report author Andrei Barysevich, director of Recorded Future, the data is based on a survey conducted by a closed underground community. He says the security company posted a survey while investigating invitation-only underground internet and dark web hacker forums.
“We actually saw criminals who made way more than that, $50,000 to $200,000 a month,” Barysevich said. “This is what they keep, this is not revenues, but pure profit. This is what they can spend on loose women, fast cars, and nice clothes.”
The researcher said he was quite surprised how many cybercriminals participated in the survey (a couple of hundreds), and revealed details how they worked anonymously. However, the results did not surprise him.
“What we saw actually supported our previous research,” he said. “Recorded Future has been gathering information about cybercriminals for years. Our job involves engaging with cybercriminals and we talk to them all the time. And they share with us quite intimate details, which city they are in if they actually have a regular job if they have families. And we see a lot of weird stuff.”
Barysevich added that most cybercriminals work part time and for some of them, cybercrime is a family business.
“We’ve seen several generations that engaged in cybercriminal activity,” the researcher said. “We’ve seen messages between bad guys, with one guy complaining that today his wife was only able to purchase cheap electronics with stolen credit cards, worth a few hundred dollars, while as his father was doing Internet crime.”
According to Barysevich, the biggest demographic group are individuals with no criminal records, no ties to organized crime, with steady jobs. Many of these hackers got involved in cybercrime while they were in college and continued their operation afterward. However, the director of Recorded Future added, the most dangerous cybercriminals are those who run criminal syndicates.
“Team members tend to have strong ties in real life and often are respected members of their communities, viewed by many as successful businessmen and entrepreneurs,” the report goes by. “The group will often have a diversified investment portfolio and maintain a presence in real estate, hospitality, and auto-related businesses.”
“They are not dilettantes,” Barysevich said. “They are professionals, but in real life, and in cybercrime. They plan their operations very carefully, they have trusted people on the team of different professionals, so they have lawyers and ex-law enforcement officers. They also have professional forgers if they need to establish shell companies and need fake documents. They have people responsible for money laundering. They have real estate developers that help them build a legitimate business empire on the profits they make from illegal activities.”
Barysevich added that cybercriminal organizations mirror traditional mafia groups.