CHAPTER 1Counting the Costs of Cyber Attacks


1.1.1 The Plan

The year 2012 had been good for a small group of cyber hackers. They called themselves ‘Rescator’, after the noble and mysterious pirate character in the Angelique series of French historical romantic films popular on television in Eastern Europe and Russia. The Rescator team specialized in scamming the credentials from credit cards and selling the details for around a 10th of a bitcoin each (approximately $1 in 2012) on sites in the dark web and other black market outlets, such as the Russian ‘octavian’ marketplace.1 As they counted their takings in early December 2012, they watched a YouTube meme about the preholiday shopping frenzy taking place in the United States, set to the tune of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ played on cash registers, a parody of consumerism. Ker-ching! Inspired, their planning began in earnest, reinvesting their profits to go for the jackpot: a major theft of US credit card information during next year's holiday spending spree. They could not have known just how successful they would be, and that they were about to commit the biggest theft of credit card data in human history.

1.1.2 The Malware

Rescator began by buying a malware kit from one of the underground forums to create a RAM scraper, similar to other point-of-sale (PoS) hacking malware known as BlackPOS, but significantly more sophisticated.2 The Rescator software later became known as Kaptoxa ...

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