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The Economics of Cybercrime

Posted September 27, 2016by Monika Gupta

The threat landscape is constantly evolving. Why are cybercriminals investing so many resources in building new malware? Hint: As Nelly said, “Must be the money.” 

A Sophisticated Business Operation

Cybercriminals continuously modify attack methods to make their business more efficient and lucrative. A prime example is ransomware, which made its first appearance 26 years ago. It has evolved significantly since and has been making the headlines as it targets organizations of all types and sizes. It is predicted that ransomware will cost victims $1 billion in the year 2016, a 300 percent increase from 2015. In short, the investment in building malware is paying off. 

The business model of cybercriminals looks like an office you and I would recognize. They take nights and weekends off, continuously innovate, sell malware products, and even offer customer service. At the very core it is absolutely a business. One of the main contributors to the successful cybercriminal business model and proliferation of threats is technology. While technology has helped us in both our personal and professional lives, it has also helped cybercriminals gain unprecedented access to victims and reach new levels of anonymity.

SMBs are Targets Too

Small businesses often think they are too small to be at risk, assuming cybercriminals go after the big fish in the sea. MSPs know this is not true – and that small businesses are just as vulnerable to threats as large organizations. There are two reasons that small businesses are not immune. Cybercrime is often a volume business (if I hit just enough victims, I’ll make my profit!) and small businesses are often the key to gaining access to larger enterprises (the big fish in the sea).

The secret to staying protected is staying knowledgeable. Understanding how cybercriminals work, the type of business model they are using, and the tools they gravitate toward gives the necessary insight on how to protect your customers. 

OpenDNS, now part of Cisco, is sponsoring Continuum's upcoming user conference, Navigate 2016, taking place in Boston, MA from September 28-30th. Be sure to check out our full discussion on The Economics of Cybercrime taking place on Thursday, September 29, 2016 from 3:15-4:00 pm ET. The session will be presented by Dima Kumets, Sr. Product Manager at OpenDNS, now part of Cisco. Watch our MSPtv interview with Dima below for a sneak peek!  


Monika is a member of the products team at Cisco Umbrella, where she focuses on strategy and go-to-market for Umbrella for MSPs. She has been in the technology and security space for four years. Prior to Cisco Umbrella, she worked at Ernst & Young in cash management consulting. She graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in Finance and a minor in Economics. She has an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Topics: Cyber Security

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