This blog highlights work from Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest)’ recently-published Dark Web Monitoring Solutions Guide. The guide outlines some of the most popular dark web monitoring use cases and shares some best practices.
Any Product Marketing professional worth their salt will have read the seminal “Crossing the Chasm” book, which highlights how technology products go through an adoption lifecycle. In this book, five stages are outlined: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. To be successful, technologies must bridge the gap between early adopters and the early majority.
OK… so where am I going with this? When chatting with colleagues from Photon, it struck me that the cybercriminals also adopt these business models and processes. There are too many comparisons to draw in just this blog; ransomware affiliate models, recruitment drives, and division of labor are the obvious ones. However, the shining example of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle in action is Genesis Market, a criminal market our team first identified and blogged about three years ago. Gone are the days of product betas and innovators–this market is now mainstream.
What is Genesis Market?
Genesis is a fully-gated, invitation-only, English-language automated vending cart (AVC) site focused on the sale of digital fingerprints relating to a (victim) user’s computer, browser, and accounts on websites and services. It exists on both the dark web and the clear web since around 2017.
These fingerprints include information about a victim’s account, including username and password, but also other identifiers such as browser cookies, IP addresses, user-agent strings, and other operating system details. Wannabe fraudsters would previously have to source these bits separately, until Genesis came along.
Cybercriminals use these fingerprints to extrapolate account login details, bank access credentials, or bypass anti-fraud solutions either for personal exploitation or to sell on for financial gain.
Our clients are understandably interested in knowing if their customer accounts are for sale here.
How did Genesis Market achieve its growth?
When our team discovered Genesis in March 2018, the market had been around four about five months and was still in beta mode (the owner’s words, not ours). The market claimed to be the result of research conducted across the antifraud technologies used by 283 major banks and payments systems. This interested the innovators, who began to trickle in. By April, there were more than 1,000 bots for purchase on Genesis Market.
Reputation is critical for new criminal endeavors, and word travels fast. Genesis’ unique product offering has gained widespread popularity since its creation around 2017. Since this time, similar and competing platforms have emerged onto the cybercriminal scene like Tenebris and Richlogs (since rebranded as Underworld Market). However, Genesis remains a high-profile and trusted repository of digital fingerprints. Photon analysis from 2020 showed that Genesis commanded 65% of mentions across criminal forums.
“As a product begins to have mass market appeal, the next class of adopter to arrive is the early majority.”
Markets and forums regularly pop up and disappear with little notice, but Genesis has endured and grown year-on-year. In the last two months, more than 5,000 new listings have been added to Genesis. This brings the total number of listings to more than 350,000.
Of the listings that we see on Genesis, many get alerted to our customers. Since April, we have already sent out hundreds of alerts informing our clients that their customer (and sometimes employee) fingerprints are available for rent.
Genesis Market adoption is now clearly in the early majority.
What is Offered on the Genesis Market?
Genesis Market has 374,401 bot listings from 218 countries across the world. In the chart below, we’ve pulled out the counts for the most common countries. We have omitted countries with less than 1,000 bots.
The United States and the United Kingdom were among the usual suspects with 13,000 and 10,000 listings respectively. Somewhat surprisingly, Italy (52,686) and France (37,857) had the highest count of bots for rent. Either way, this is a truly global concern.
Top prices show a slightly different story, with bots from the United States commanding the highest price–up to $287 in some instances. The price varies by login type, too. Those with banking and email logins tend to reach higher prices than other technologies. Windows 10 appears to be the most popular operating system.
Fraud a Top Use Case for Dark Web Monitoring
“Dark web monitoring” continues to be surrounded by mystery and unrealistic expectations, but monitoring sites like Genesis is a great example of how there are real, tangible use cases that security teams can expect to garner from building up a dark web monitoring program. If you’d like to gain insight on dark web monitoring use cases and capabilities get a free copy of our Dark Web Monitoring Solutions Guide here.
If you are interested in seeing your own company’s exposure, you can search across some of these listings in Test Drive (such as below).