Cyber criminals from eastern Europe pose just as big a threat as their more high-profile east Asian rivals, says security firm Trend Micro.
Research has shown that east European hackers tend to use custom-built, highly-complex malware.
“East Asian hackers are persistent, but use more off-the-shelf malware and simpler techniques,” said Tom Kellermann, vice-president of cyber security at Trend Micro.
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East European hackers typically choose bullet-proof hosters and use their own infrastructures, while east Asian hackers tend to use cheap, hosted infrastructure.
East European hackers are professional "guns for hire" working in small, tightly-knit teams that directly derive profit from their actions, said Kellermann. They attack in a targeted manner like snipers, unlike the east Asians, who tend to colonise entire ecosystems with the “thousand grains of sand approach”. Eastern Europe is the high-end market with highly-skilled mercenary attackers whose livelihood depends on their reputation and skill, he said.
Operating in such a competitive, specialised marketplace means the east European hackers take great pains to camouflage their activities while the Asians are aware they are one among many and don't fear disclosure of their intrusions.
“It’s important for firms to know their enemy and, despite the headlines, the enemy is just as dangerous closer to home,” said Kellerman.