Report details changing tactics and global demand for new malicious services like Deepfake ransomware and AI bots


HONG KONG, CHINA – Media OutReach – 27 May 2020 – Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704),
the global leader in cloud security,
today released new data on cybercriminal
operations and patterns for buying and selling goods and services in the
underground. Trust has eroded among criminal interactions, causing a switch to
e-commerce platforms and communication using Discord, which both increase user


“This report
highlights the threat intelligence we collect and analyze from global
cybercriminal networks that enables us to alert, prepare and protect our
corporate customers and partners,” said Tony Lee, Head of Consulting, Hong
Kong and Macau, at Trend Micro. “This research helps us inform businesses
early about emerging threats, such as Deepfake ransomware, AI bots,
Access-as-a-Service and highly targeted SIM-swapping. A layered, risk-based
response is vital for mitigating the risk posed by these and other increasingly
popular threats.”


The report reveals that
determined efforts by law enforcement appear to be having an impact on the
cybercrime underground. Several forums have been taken down by global police
entities, and remaining forums experience persistent DDoS attacks and log-in
problems impacting their usefulness.


Loss of trust led to the
creation of a new site, called DarkNet Trust, which was created to verify
vendors’ and increase user anonymity. Other underground markets have launched
new security measures, such as direct buyer-to-vendor payments,
multi-signatures for cryptocurrency transactions, encrypted messaging, and a
ban on JavaScript.


The report also reveals the
changing market trends for cybercrime products and services since 2015.
Commoditization has driven prices down for many items. For example, crypting
services fell from US$1,000 to just $20 per month, while the price of generic
botnets dropped from $200 to $5 per day. Pricing for other items, including
ransomware, Remote Access Trojans (RATs), online account credentials and spam
services, remained stable, which indicates continued demand.


However, Trend Micro Research has seen high demand for other
services, such as IoT botnets, with new undetected malware variants selling for
as much as $5,000. Also popular are fake news and cyber-propaganda services,
with voter databases selling for hundreds of dollars, and gaming accounts for
games like Fortnite can fetch around $1,000 on average.


Other notable findings include the emergence of markets for:

  • Deepfake services for sextortion or to bypass photo verification requirements on
    some sites.
  • AI-based gambling bots designed to predict dice roll patterns and crack complex Roblox
  • Access-as-a-Service to hacked devices and corporate networks. Prices for Fortune 500
    companies can reach up to US$10,000 and some services include access with read and
    write privileges.
  • Wearable device accounts where access could enable cybercriminals to run warranty scams by
    requesting replacement devices.

Trends in underground marketplaces will likely shift further
in the months following the global COVID-19 pandemic, as attack opportunities
continue to evolve. To protect against the ever-changing threat landscape,
Trend Micro recommends a multi-layered defense approach to protect against the
latest threats and mitigate corporate security risk.


To find out more and read the full report, please visit:

About Trend Micro

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity
solutions, helps to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our
innovative solutions for consumers, businesses, and governments provide layered
security for data centers, cloud environments, networks, and endpoints. All our
products work together to seamlessly share threat intelligence and provide a
connected threat defense with centralized visibility and control, enabling
better, faster protection. With more than 6,000 employees in over 50 countries
and the world’s most advanced global threat intelligence, Trend Micro secures
your connected world. For more information, visit