Two years ago I remember reading an article about the Mafia, namely the Russian Mafia’s takeover of cybercrime, however though there was definitely an increase in their involvement in the hacking field, the Mafia only made up a tiny proportion of the bigger picture, it was really more of people’s imaginations running wild popularising the idea that the Mafia had heavy control. A study carried out by the Director of the Human CyberCriminal Project at the University of Oxford Johnathan Lusthaus in 2018 confirmed this, Jonathan said:
“A mafia isn’t satisfied with controlling one criminal market. They want to control all criminal markets. They want to monopolize all of those industries. Every criminal activity will be under their umbrella…” “What we are seeing is some involvement – but not in every case. A lot of former cyber criminals I interviewed don’t want to be involved with (Mafias),” he said. “You have street guys collaborating with nerds. But if you’re some sort of technical guy, do you really want to be in business with organized crime, with someone who can do you physical harm?”
And as we have seen through the likes of the dark web the Mafia have certainly made good use of cyberspace. However, since that study 3 years ago much seems to have changed in what Johnathan was rightly saying, because money like all these things, talks, it is the language that both the cyber criminal and Mafia alike understand and relish upon, especially when the market is estimated to be worth $445-600 billion year on year, so combining the Mafia’s wealth, connections and ability to provide all that a hacker would pretty much need, as well as bringing together the best hackers to work alongside each other, certainly makes sense and one hell of a cybercriminal powerhouse.
Many of us have been witness to these types of attacks; entire networks being taken down by ransomware and malware, with popup notices demanding cryptocurrency payments to release the computer from the attack. These large scale attacks are rarely the hand of the loan shark and generally require a team of people to execute them successfully, these teams are otherwise known as hacking syndicates. In the last few years these syndicates have grown exponentially and it is believed that this rapid growth has been driven by the Mafia, though we may ‘never’ actually find out for sure who is behind these attacks we know they’re here to stay and will become more frequent, or at least until cryptocurrencies finally become regulated and monitored as they should have done.
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