Thales Blog

Protect Your Organization from Cybercrime-as-a-Service Attacks

October 12, 2023

Todd Moore Todd Moore | VP Encryption Products, Thales More About This Author >

In years gone by, only large enterprises needed to be concerned with cybercrime. For cybercriminals, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) weren't worth attacking; the few individuals capable of pulling off a successful cyberattack were only interested in reeling in the big fish.

However, Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) offerings have essentially democratized cybercrime. Budding cybercriminals now only need a rudimentary understanding of cybersecurity, access to the internet, and a few dollars in their pocket to initiate an attack. As such, cybercrime has become indiscriminate, with cybercriminals attacking any organization, regardless of its size.

In this blog post, we'll explore what CaaS is and how it has impacted the contemporary threat landscape.

What is Cybercrime-as-a-Service?

CaaS is a model in which cybercriminals provide various hacking and cybercrime services to other individuals or groups, typically for financial gain. It's essentially commodifying and commercializing cybercriminal activities, allowing even those with little technical expertise to engage in cybercrime.

In this model, cybercriminals act as service providers, offering their customers a range of illicit services in exchange for payment. Some common examples of Cybercrime-as-a-Service offerings include:

  • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS): Cybercriminals offer ransomware packages that other individuals or groups can use to infect and encrypt their targets' data. The attackers then demand a ransom from the victim to decrypt the data.
  • Distributed Denial of Service-as-a-Service (DDoSaaS): In this service, cybercriminals provide tools and infrastructure for launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites or online services, causing them to become unavailable to legitimate users.
  • Botnets-for-hire: Cybercriminals may rent out their botnets, which are networks of compromised computers or devices controlled by a central entity (the botmaster). Cybercriminals can use these botnets to send spam, conduct DDoS attacks, or spread malware.
  • Credential theft services: Some cybercriminals offer services to steal login credentials (e.g., usernames and passwords) from individuals or companies. Other cybercriminals can then use these credentials to facilitate further unauthorized access or sell them on the dark web.
  • Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS): Cybercriminals sell ready-made malware kits or tools, enabling others to launch attacks without creating the malware from scratch.

It's important to remember that Cybercrime-as-a-Service is still in its infancy and is only likely to improve. Over time, the underground networks will optimize their ways of working and, consequently, increase their return on investment. Criminals will only pay for what they need and scale activity up and down depending on success rates. For example, during the holiday season, there are more opportunities to be disruptive without being detected.

Combatting Cybercrime-as-a-Service

As CaaS offerings grow more common and sophisticated, organizations must recognize that every organization, regardless of size or renown, is a potential victim of cybercrime. SMBs can no longer cling to the idea that they are "too small to be attacked" and avoid implementing the necessary cybersecurity procedures. In fact, research suggests that smaller businesses are more likely to be attacked than their larger counterparts.

With cybercrime becoming more accessible to more individuals and organized crime groups, organizations must take additional measures to protect their data – wherever it resides. It is imperative for businesses to know exactly where their sensitive data is and to apply the correct security controls. Centralized key and policy management is critical to maintain data control across all environments (including public, private, and hybrid clouds). Companies should also make sure sensitive data is encrypted - just in case the worst happens, and hackers do manage to gain a foothold into company systems.

However, adequately protecting against CaaS requires a basic but comprehensive cybersecurity program. A basic cybersecurity strategy must include the following components:

  • Risk Assessment: Identify and prioritize cybersecurity risks by assessing assets, threats, vulnerabilities, and potential impact.
  • Education and Training: Educate employees on best practices, including strong passwords, phishing awareness, safe internet usage, and reporting suspicious activities.
  • Strong Passwords and Authentication: Implement robust password policies and encourage multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Firewalls and Network Security: Install firewalls to control incoming/outgoing traffic, preventing unauthorized access and filtering malicious content.
  • Software Updates and Patch Management: Keep software updated to prevent exploitation of known vulnerabilities.
  • Data Encryption: Use encryption to protect sensitive data in transit and at rest.
  • Secure Configuration: Ensure hardware and software are securely configured.
  • Backup and Recovery: Regularly back up critical data and verify backups.
  • Incident Response Plan: Develop a plan to respond to cybersecurity breaches, including roles, communication, and mitigation.
  • Access Control and Least Privilege: Implement access controls to limit user privileges.

As CaaS operations grow increasingly sophisticated, organizations must remain vigilant and continuously improve their cybersecurity defenses to protect their sensitive data and maintain control over their digital assets. Adapting to the changing threat landscape and staying proactive in defending against cyber threats is essential.

Learn more about data protection solutions from Thales.