Although they have always worked in parallel, technological and social engineering experts join forces to create companies.
Objective: To pool their skills and equip themselves with the means to grow by relying on a traditional company structure. A true parallel economy that has an impact on the real economy.
Hackers, little computer geniuses
Hacker: the first Internet pirates. Born in the 1980s, passionate about computers and lines of code, first-generation hackers tracked down IS flaws to get into the guts of corporate computers. Their motivations? Take on the biggest software publishers, impress their peers with their technical prowess and creativity, and challenge each other. Driven by convictions, the break-ins were carried out to block the sites of companies whose ideas they did not share (denial of service), or to steal data for the purposes of industrial espionage. Hacking was a game.
Over time, more corrupt motives emerged, with peer recognition not feeding her husband. More numerous, the hackers then formed into teams and added to their practices the development of codes that would allow them to block access to corporate ISs and make ransom demands in exchange for the return of access. Ransomware was born.
Faced with the explosion of these cyber attacks and the ever increasing amounts of money claimed by hackers to companies, the latter, and especially the large ones, have developed processes and implemented solutions to prevent and combat this scourge. However, with all businesses poorly equipped, this type of attack continues to abound, targeting all organizations regardless of size and industry. According to a 2021 study by Euler Hermes and the DFCG (the National Association of Financial Directors and Management Control), 2 out of 3 companies have experienced at least one attempted fraud this year and 33% of the companies that are victims of fraud have suffered a loss greater than € 10,000 and 14% greater than € 100,000. French companies would have lost a total of 2.5 billion euros in 2021 (source: Ransomware Barometer)
Scammers, bold talkers
If scammers haven’t waited for the Internet to indulge their scams, or for the use of digital techniques to spread their attacks, their arrival on the Internet is more recent. Unlike the hacker, the scammer has nothing to do with the mad technophile. He is a daring commercial, a good psychologist, a seducer and who manages language well. Qualified as social engineering, the scams promoted by these scammers are becoming more and more numerous. In 2020, 47% of companies reported being victims of CEO fraud, 46% of supplier fraud and 25% of customer fraud (source Euler Hermes, DFCG, 2021). In addition, 33% of the companies that were victims of fraud suffered a loss of more than € 10,000 and 14% suffered a loss of more than € 100,000. In just a few years, scammers have become more professional. After the first badly written and cracked emails, scammers started using different technologies and social networks to better target profiles and write correct emails in the recipients’ language. With the democratization of technologies, they have never stopped perfecting their actions. Thus, they no longer hesitate to go to the dark web to consult tutorials dedicated to technologies such as Deepfake, which allow you to transform the words of the person being filmed into a video sequence. A technique that today is more efficient than email to fool employees because few people are aware of this technology. So an employee can be easily misled by a shortened video from his supervisor asking him, for example, to make a bank transfer. A scammer’s motivation is always corruptible!
Hackers and scammers: two worlds coming together today
If these two worlds did not know each other until now, they have been getting closer for a while. Objective: to combine their skills and practices to attack increasingly armed companies. Their collaboration is simple: after hacking into companies’ IS, hackers provide information to scammers so that they can fine-tune their attack strategies themselves. An association between social engineering specialists and technological engineering experts, which today takes the form of the creation of companies identical to traditional companies. Thus, like the latter, they have a showcase and are structured around general management, administrative and financial management, HRD, executives, etc.
Faced with such a development, businesses have no alternative but to fight together against this parallel economy which, by becoming more professional, is having an ever greater impact on the real economy.