A Europol report has warned that cyber criminals are increasingly offering their services to the highest bidder, putting Europe at heightened risk of terror attacks.
The 2016 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment claimed that hackers are advertising upon the Dark Web.
Europol, a law enforcement agency that fights crime and terrorism across the European Union, stated in the report: “There appears to be an increasing trend in the number of Darknet forums dedicated to terrorist ideals.
“This growth has also been reflected in the increase of technically savvy terrorist affiliated individuals who share and disseminate their ideas in these forums.
“This has resulted in amplified cyberattacks to Western targets even if they have been of little impact.
“The trend is indicative of growing cyber capability amongst these groups as their knowledge expands and they exchange expertise.”
The Europol report said that groups such as Islamic State have failed to launch any meaningful attacks on the West beyond routine website defacements but that the capability to launch future attacks could well exist.
“While the extent to which extremist groups currently use cyber-techniques to conduct attacks appears to be limited, the availability of cybercrime tools and services, and illicit commodities such as firearms on the Darknet, provide ample opportunities for this situation to change,” the report said.
“The mature crime-as-a-service model underpinning cybercrime continues to provide tools and services across the entire spectrum of cyber-criminality, from entry-level to top-tier players, and any other seekers, including parties with other motivations such as terrorists.
“The cybercrime as-a-service business model… provides the access to tools and services to people with little knowledge of cyber matters, circumventing the need for expert technological skills.”
The UK Government this week announced a “groundbreaking” partnership with tech start-ups to develop world-leading cyber security technology.
Europol director Rob Wainwright said: “The relentless growth of cybercrime remains a real and significant threat to our collective security in Europe.
“Europol is concerned about how an expanding cybercriminal community has been able to further exploit our increasing dependence on technology and the internet.”
The report also claimed that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, while promoting transparency, can assist criminals in their illegal endeavours.
“Many of these new currencies focus on innovation and utility, making them more accessible or useful for business, but even these show potential for criminal use,” it read.
“The majority of law enforcement currently has its attention focused on Bitcoin, a fact which is not lost on the criminal community.
“It is therefore logical to assume that some smaller criminal communities may be abusing lesser-known cryptocurrencies in order to stay under the radar.”
It was revealed last week that “state-sponsored” hackers stole the details of about 500 million Yahoo users in the largest cyber security breach in history.