Who Are Cybercriminals? Hack, Infiltrate & Breach Systems

Hacking does not necessarily count as a cybercrime; as such, not all hackers are Cybercriminals. Cybercriminals hack and infiltrate computer systems with malicious intent. While Hackers only seek to find new and innovative ways to use a system, be it for good or bad. Cybercriminals also differ greatly from threat actors in various ways, the first of which is intent.

Threat Actors are individuals who conduct targeted attacks, which actively pursue and compromise a target entity’s infrastructure. Cybercriminals are unlikely to focus on a single entity. But, they conduct operations on broad masses of victims. Defined only by similar platform types, online behavior, or programs used, thus they differ in skills.


Threat actors follow a six-step process, which includes researching targets and moving laterally inside a network. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, are unlikely to follow defined steps to get what they want from their victims. Note, however, that cybercriminals have also been known to adopt targeted attack methodologies in their operations.

Who are Cybercriminals?

Cybercriminals are individuals or teams of people who use technology to commit malicious activities on digital systems or networks. Eventually, with the intention of stealing sensitive company information or personal data and generating profit.

Cybercriminals are known to access the cybercriminal underground markets found in the deep web to trade malicious goods and services. Such as hacking tools and stolen data. Cybercriminal underground markets are known to specialize in certain products or services.


Laws related to cybercrime continue to evolve across various countries worldwide. Law enforcement agencies are also continually challenged when it comes to finding, arresting, charging, and proving cybercrimes.

Political hackers, or ‘hacktivists’ – such as the loose grouping known as Anonymous – put their skills to work exposing or attacking establishment bodies such as governments, financial institutions, and other entities they see as corrupt.

What are the Wants of Cybercriminals?

While perpetrators and their activities are secretive, we do know that their motivations vary. Most bad guys want to steal your money, and they use a number of approaches to get it, including those at the bottom of this page.

From social engineering threats to ransomware, money is often the main aim. This may include access to a number of types of data, from credit card information and contact information to IP addresses, usernames, and passwords.

Cybercriminals want a number of different things, including:

  • Money (extorting or transferring money from accounts)
  • Power/influence
  • Financial information or Corporate data
  • Personal profiling data (passwords, etc)
  • Information relating to new product research and development
  • Access to systems (to create ‘zombies’)
  • To place software on your machine (adware, spyware.)
  • Sensitive information (government institutions, personal data from public/private companies)

Another aim of many cybercriminals is corporate espionage: stealing information, data, or ideas. It may be that the data itself is valuable or that the breach damages a business’ reputation. Sometimes what the bad actor initially wants – passwords, personal data, customer information, etc – is just part of a grander scheme.

Cybercriminals Recap: Snatch & Zeppelin Ransomware

Researchers at SophosLabs found that the ransomware operators use a Windows registry key to schedule a Windows service called SuperBackupMan, which can run in Safe Mode and cannot be stopped or paused. The malware even goes further by deleting all volume shadow copies on the system, thus preventing the forensic recovery of encrypted files.

Two ransomware families – Snatch and Zeppelin – with noteworthy features were spotted this week. Snatch ransomware is capable of forcing Windows machines to reboot into Safe Mode. Zeppelin ransomware, on the other hand, was responsible for infecting healthcare and IT organizations across Europe and the U.S.

How A Snatch Ransomware Attack Happens

Snatch reboots infected machines into Safe Mode to bypass security software and encrypt files without being detected. It was designed to do this because security software often does not run in Windows Safe Mode since it’s meant for debugging and recovering a corrupt operating system (OS).

Snatch ransomware, first discovered back in 2018, does not target home users or use mass distribution methods such as spam campaigns or browser-based exploits. Instead, the malware operators go after a small list of targets that include companies and government organizations. The operators were also found recruiting hackers on hacking forums and stealing information from target organizations.

What are the Targets of Zeppelin Ransomware?

Zeppelin, which is a new variant of the VegaLocker/Buran ransomware, was spotted with compilation timestamps no earlier than November 6, 2019. Infecting companies located in Europe and the U.S. through targeted installs.

As reported by BlackBerry Cylance, the Zeppelin ransomware, also a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) family, was found to be used to infect certain healthcare and IT companies. Zeppelin ransomware appears to be highly configurable and can be deployed as a .dll or .exe file, or wrapped in a PowerShell loader.

Read Also: Christmas-Themed Shopping, Game and Chat Apps Found Malicious, Lure Users with Deals

Aside from encrypting files, it also terminates various processes, including those associated with the backup, database, and mail servers. Zeppelin executables were found wrapped in three layers of obfuscation. Its ransom notes range from generic messages to elaborate notes tailored to specific organizations.

Notably, it appears Zeppelin ransomware is not being widely distributed — or at least not yet. The researchers believe that Zeppelin, similar to Sodinokibi ransomware, is being spread through managed service providers (MSPs) to further affect customers. Moreover, the ransomware can also be distributed through malvertising operations and watering hole attacks.

How do you Protect Against Ransomware?

Aside from maintaining an up-to-date operating system to address exploitable vulnerabilities, users should adopt the standard best practice of backing up data via the 3-2-1 rule.

Users can also consider deploying comprehensive, multi-layered security solutions that will protect against ransomware attacks coming from different entry points. Below are other measures that users and organizations can implement to prevent ransomware attacks.

Consider the following:
  • Secure ports and services that are exposed to the internet
  • Enable multi-factor authentication to protect admin accounts from potential brute-force attacks
  • Secure remote access tools as they can be used as entry points
  • Employ the principle of least privilege and regularly monitor your network for threats
  • Perform regular password audits for stronger access control

Trend Micro solutions such as the Smart Protection Suites and Worry-Free Business Security solutions, which have behavior monitoring capabilities, can protect users and businesses from these types of threats. Especially, by detecting malicious files, scripts, and messages as well as blocking all related malicious URLs.

Trend Micro XGen security provides a cross-generational blend of threat defense techniques against a full range of threats for data centerscloud environmentsnetworks, and endpoints. It infuses high-fidelity machine learning with other detection technologies and global threat intelligence for comprehensive protection against advanced malware.


Larger corporations have more financial resources to invest in defense. Malicious attackers are well aware of this. So, alongside attacks on enterprises, they also logically target more vulnerable links in the chain: small businesses.

The data that these small businesses process is often extremely valuable, both to the SMB and to the client they are supplying or partnering with. Cybercriminals know this too.

Anonymously, and from international bases, perpetrators produce programs and software designed to scour the web, hunting for those weak links, wherever they may be. Often, people play as big a role in cybersecurity as antivirus software like AVG Business.

That’s why, in the battle to defend your business against cybercriminals, it’s essential to:

  • Invest in cybersecurity software for your business to immediately and comprehensively protect your business from a range of security threats
  • Train your employees to stop bad actors from gaining access to social security data, online accounts, bank account, or other sensitive data so that they don’t put your business at risk from attack.

Learn more about protecting your small business from cybercriminals

A data breach could cripple your small business, costing you thousands or millions of dollars in lost sales and/or damages. But, with this in mind, I hope you have gathered enough information in regards to the above-revised topic.

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