Inside China’s Black Market for Hackers

October 30, 2013 Updated: October 30, 2013

On the Chinese hacker black market, you can buy your way into a compromised computer in South Korea or Japan for 16 cents each. If you want to watch someone through their webcam, access to computers with cameras connected come in packages of $16.27 for 500.

Cybersecurity company TrendMicro took a tour through China’s online, underground market for everything from automated hacking tools to stolen credentials in America and Europe. Researchers detailed their findings on Oct. 29 in a new report, “Beyond Online Gaming Cybercrime: Revisiting the Chinese Underground Market.”

“The Chinese underground market is hidden to the public but is not very difficult to find,” the report states. To access the Chinese hacker black market, researchers went to China’s two main methods for online communication: Baidu Web forums and QQ chat groups.

It states that cybercriminals frequent both Baidu and QQ, noting that each Chinese cybercrime group has a unique ID. “Would-be customers can simply search for a certain group of interest in QQ to gain access to its service and product offerings.”

After gaining access, researchers were greeted with an underground market that is “a lot like any Chinese market.” Users on the Chinese-language market can haggle for goods, and sellers use attractive advertisements to entice buyers.

“Everything you can possibly need is readily available,” the report states.

Under the services section researchers found groups of Chinese mercenary hackers ready to launch attacks for the right price. They can be hired for simple jobs, like launching Distributed Denial of Service attacks to overload websites and take them offline, to more complex jobs like testing a piece of malware against antivirus software.

For cybercriminals interested in working for themselves, there are also plenty of automated hacking tools available. These include phishing kits that can help hackers trick unsuspecting foreigners into granting access to their computers. Or they can grab a remote access tool (RAT) that allows them to control a victim’s computer remotely.

Since their last visit to China’s underground hacker black market, researchers at TrendMicro noted, “It now offers a wider variety of services and products that any cybercriminal would love to get his hands on.”

They also gave a word of warning: “Because cybercriminals find a great deal of value from stealing and buying stolen personal credentials, users should make sure they practice safe computing habits.”

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