A Look at the Growing Complexity of Profitable Cybercrime Networks

Cybercrime methods

Over the past decade, profitable cybercrime networks have grown increasingly complex.

Similar to traditional organized crime syndicates, cyber criminals have developed large networks in order to ensure their moneymaking schemes are effective.  For maximum effectiveness, there are a variety of criminal-types which have become specialized in their specific tasks.  This significantly increases the Internet security risks associated with cybercrime because each criminal has become more specialized.

The Writers

There are two types of code writers or developers in cybercrime networks which pose noticeable Internet security risks.  The first are exploit writers.  They are extremely skilled at discovering Internet security vulnerabilities in software and web-based applications.  They create exploit packs which take advantage of multiple vulnerabilities simultaneously.  The other type of writer focuses on malware.  Today most malware writers do not distribute their code directly, but sell their services to larger cyber organizations.  Instead of exploiting vulnerabilities, they develop their own Internet security threats.


A translator primarily works with spam and social engineering attacks.  By utilizing highly skilled translators, these attacks are more difficult to spot, which increases the number of people who will fall into their trap.  A poorly written e-mail is much more likely to be ignored than a well-written one.  Spam will always be an Internet security risk and the growing use of translators makes it a more dangerous than ever.  In many cases, the translator will not even know that they are translating potentially dangerous material.

Cybercrime dangers

Mule Managers

Traditional criminals use everyday people off the street to transfer funds and deposit checks.  The online version of money mules focuses on people who are willing to commit financial fraud.  In some cases, money mules don’t even realize what they are doing until it is too late.  Mule managers are the people who recruit and manage individuals willing to handle the transactions.

Bot Managers

The primary purpose of bots is to infect devices and turn it into a zombie device.  These devices can be taken over by the hacker any time they want.  Bot managers are responsible for infecting devices and segregating infected devices based on the geography and type of the device.  In most instances, bot managers sell or lease the devices they control to larger cyber-criminal networks.  Bots have always been a prevalent Internet security threat; however they are now being leveraged on greater scales to cause more damage.

Tool Designers

Tool designers focus on developing software.  While developing software isn’t illegal, tool developers focus solely on creating tools which spread spam and malware.  They either develop software independently and sell it to larger networks or work on a contract basis.


The final group of people is the organizers.  They are the individuals who organize all of the separate entities into a well-planned Internet security attack.

Internet security experts agree cyber-crime networks will continue to evolve and grow larger over the coming years.  Current Internet security threats will become more widespread as criminal networks become more efficient.  Additionally, new Internet security threats will continually be discovered as new ways to profit from online crime are identified.

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