Wages Dominate Cybercrime Groups’ Operating Expenses

Trend Micro report shows how criminal organizations come to resemble legitimate businesses

[Hong Kong, April 12, 2023] Trend Micro (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704), a global cybersecurity leader, today published new research detailing how criminal groups start behaving like corporations as they grow bigger, but that this comes with its own attendant costs and challenges.

To read a full copy of the report, Inside the Halls of a Cybercrime Business, please visit:  https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/hk/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/inside-the-halls-of-a-cybercrime-business

Jon Clay, VP of threat intelligence at Trend Micro: “The criminal underground is rapidly professionalizing – with groups beginning to mimic legitimate businesses that grow in complexity as their membership and revenue increases. However, larger cybercrime organizations can be harder to manage and have more ‘office politics,’ poor performers, and trust issues. This report highlights to investigators the importance of understanding the size of the criminal entities they’re dealing with.”

A typical large organization allocates 80% of its operating expenses to wages, with the figure similarly high (78%) for small criminal organizations, according to the report. Other common expenses include infrastructure (servers/routers/VPNs), virtual machines, and software.

The study outlined three types of organizations based on size, using examples where Trend Micro collected the most data from law enforcement and insider information.

Small criminal businesses (e.g., Counter Anti-Virus service Scan4You):


Medium-sized criminal businesses (e.g., bulletproof hoster MaxDedi):


Large criminal business (e.g., ransomware group Conti):


According to the report, knowing the size and complexity of a criminal organization can provide critical clues to investigators, such as what types of data to hunt for. For example, larger criminal entities may store employee lists, financial statements, company guides/tutorials, M&A documents, employee crypto wallet details, and even shared calendars to probe. Understanding the size of targeted criminal organizations can also allow law enforcers to prioritize better which groups should be pursued for maximum impact.


About Trend Micro

Trend Micro, a global cybersecurity leader, helps make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Fueled by decades of security expertise, global threat research, and continuous innovation, Trend Micro's cybersecurity platform protects hundreds of thousands of organizations and millions of individuals across clouds, networks, devices, and endpoints. As a leader in cloud and enterprise cybersecurity, the platform delivers a powerful range of advanced threat defense techniques optimized for environments like AWS, Microsoft, and Google, and central visibility for better, faster detection and response. With 7,000 employees across 65 countries, Trend Micro enables organizations to simplify and secure their connected world. www.trendmicro.com.hk.


Claudius Lam – Trend Micro
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