How Cybercrime Gets Monetized

Cybercrime has reached an all-time high. The digital age continues to stretch into the future with new advancements across every front of technology.

As individuals and businesses have integrated their workflow with technology, the desire to obtain personal information and monetize stealing has become a business of its own. This has created the goal of cybersecurity; to protect and ensure the safety of an organization's data. Although this has been an ongoing effort for decades, within the last year over $13 billion has been spent combating cybercrime with the number of active data breaches rising from 11% to 15%. 

Cyberattacks can and will impact any organization regardless of its size. The damage will seep through from financial losses, productivity losses, and trickle down to reputation damage, raising stakeholders’ concerns. The impact of a successful attack is crucial to a company, making it critical that you understand the threats you face and how to combat them. This article will explore how cybercrime is monetized, and measures you can take to avoid being a victim.

Key Cybersecurity Risks


Phishing is commonly seen in the form of emails pretending to be a company or individual. Phishing emails will seem very detailed and have a sense of urgency, encouraging the user to act quickly before something is lost. They may link to a virus or offer a phone number to scam the user into giving a sum of money or account credentials. They hide in plain sight and anyone can become a victim, making internet usage safety important in any business. 


Business email compromise (BEC) attacks are very similar to phishing attacks in that they impersonate and attempt to trick a user via email. A BEC attack specially appears to be an internal email, posing as a senior executive or high ranking member of the company. This attack can be very effective due to the nature of internal emails, and if small details are not caught then not only is the user's job at risk, but the entire corporate ladder and business as a whole. 

Malware / Ransomware

Malware (viruses that can leak private information, gain unauthorized access to systems, or shut down a system entirely) is often seen in the form of ransomware. Ransomware attacks deploy operations that can lock down a system or specific files. The only way to retrieve the locked data is by paying a (usually) hefty ransom fee. Even if paying the fee, there is a very slim chance of retrieving the data. These are very dangerous tactics and have cost business and education $81 million alone in just the first quarter of 2021. 


One last common cybersecurity risk is a common virus. There are dozens of ways these attacks can spread, including opening the attachment of a phishing email, running an executable file posing to be a program, visiting an infected website with harmful popups, or physically with a USB drive. These viruses can trigger malware attacks, shutting down systems and disabling any workflow a business hoped to accomplish.

Economic Drivers of Cybercrime

Cyber crimes are reaching all-time high percentages as the months progress and the types of attacks are evolving as they get snuffed. The future of cybersecurity is a constant evolution of attack and defense. There are other reasons for cyber criminals to attack, but the one constant motive seems to be economic value. 

If a threat actor does acquire a name or email address, this information alone is not worth mComputer System Hacked. Virus Software Screen On Monitoruch. If the attacks continue and more information is stolen, the malicious hacker can piece together information such as a full name, email, home address and financial information, and the web begins to spin. Then there's an entire profile a cybercriminal can use to perfect their phishing email or malware attack. This is not an individual-only concern, but also a business. Compiling stolen data on employees or consumers can create a gap of safety in a company which may result in a larger attack, causing many setbacks. If the threat actor does not have the means to launch a successful attack, they can sell the data and information to someone else to profit from. This creates an endless cycle perpetuating profit by confirming that at least someone will benefit. 

There are a lot of ways that money is made from these attacks. Online retail fraud uses stolen information to cause refund and gift card fraud. The SIM card in a phone can be swapped, allowing the cybercriminal to access mobile accounts. Tax return and bank fraud are also common tactics that utilize stolen information for financial gain. Lastly is the sale of personal information, a very common tactic in which stolen personal information from compromised networks is sold to the highest bidder, often in the black market, or used to trigger attacks like ransomware. 

Tips & Best Practices to Protect Against Cyberattacks & Data Breaches

To avoid potential attacks and stay on top of security, there's a few key best practices that users and companies should engage in. Most of these attacks revolve around the pitfalls of email and human error, as over 90% of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, so ensuring proper email security is a must. Outsourcing email security adds a middle-man, slowing down potentiaspear phishing statl threats. The tougher it is to break through will deter malicious hackers quicker, as it is not worth the effort. Once proper email security is established, a business can begin to invest in proper employee education and general digital security practices. Some other best practices include:

  • Use strong passwords: Implement strong password policies that require users to use unique, complex passwords and update them regularly. Encourage the use of multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to email accounts.
  • Keep software up-to-date: Regularly update the operating system, installed applications, and email security software to fix vulnerabilities and prevent exploits. Ensure that anti-malware software is enabled and up-to-date.
  • Use firewalls: Enable the built-in firewall or install a third-party firewall to block unauthorized network access and prevent malware from spreading.
  • Practice safe browsing: Educate employees about the dangers of phishing scams, malware, and other email-borne threats and encourage them to be cautious when opening attachments or clicking on links in emails. Use browser extensions, such as uBlock Origin or NoScript, to block unwanted scripts and advertisements that could be malicious.
  • Back up data regularly: Regularly back up important data, including email data, to prevent data loss in case of an attack. Store backups off-site, or use cloud-based backup solutions, to ensure that data is protected even if the primary location is compromised.
  • Monitor and respond to security incidents: Monitor email security logs and other security-related data to identify potential threats. Develop an incident response plan that outlines steps to be taken in the event of a security incident, such as a data breach.

These best practices, along with appropriate cloud email security software, can help to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches, protect sensitive data, and ensure the confidentiality and privacy of email communications.

Final Thoughts

The digital age is continuing to grow, and with every advancement and change is a new tactic for cyber criminals to steal personal information. This data can be stolen in numerous different ways such as phishing, BEC, malware or ransomware, and the common virus. The main reason someone would want to steal this information is for monetary gain, either benefiting from the information themselves via frauds and scams or selling this information off to someone else and still reaping some reward. Not only is an individual at risk, but a company too. If a company were to go down even for a bit, it can smudge its reputation and put work on hold, thus affecting an employee's pay. There are many tactics to staying safe, from outsourcing email security to educating employees. Keeping up on current trends and staying aware of the changing landscape will go a long way to ensuring stability and safety. 

Keep Learning 

  • Improve your email security posture to protect against attacks and breaches by following best practices.
  • Adding proactive, multi-layered cloud email protection is the best way to apply a “defense in depth” approach to protecting your users from the most advanced persistent threats to your organization.
  • Keeping the integrity of your email safe requires securing the cloud with spam filtering and enterprise-grade anti-spam services.
  • Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.

Must Read Blog Posts

Latest Blog Articles

Recommended Reading