Social media platforms like Instagram have long been viewed as places where influencers can flaunt their lifestyles – purchased with deals from sponsors and suppliers. However, these influencers have lately been joined by a new group, brazenly showing off the results of their cybercrime activities and offering their services as hackers for hire.
A BBC Panorama report discovered that cyber criminals are using the most popular social networks to reach new audiences who can get involved in cybercrime without the need for any expertise of their own.
One such scam discovered by Panorama involved hackers offering ways to obtain the so-called ‘fullz’ of hundreds or even thousands of victims (‘fullz’ being internet slang for their full information: name, telephone number, address and banking details). Armed with these details, it’s possible to make online purchases or even take out loans in someone else’s name.
Details such as these most typically end up in hackers’ hands from phishing scams – where victims unwittingly divulge their information after receiving a spurious text message or email claiming to be from their bank, building society or other financial institute.
The Panorama report found one such individual was offering their services for just £115. For this, the buyer would have a fraudulent website built for them and 4,000 phishing texts sent out to potential victims.
Perhaps the most staggering aspect of this report is the overtness of these individuals, with such activities previously being consigned to the dark web. Now it’s being offered for sale on the biggest and most widely used social networks.
To those in the know, however, the fact that criminals have turned to social media is actually of little surprise. This is because, despite social networks being dogged with accusations of information leaks and data capture, they actually make it immensely difficult for authorities to locate the users of pseudonymous accounts – and certainly for those individuals who know what they’re doing.
“Anonymous accounts are leaving not just a small amount of breadcrumbs to investigate them – there are no breadcrumbs,” cybercrime specialist Jake Moore told the BBC. “There’s no digital footprint left behind them. So to investigate this is nearly impossible”