These Are the Biggest Threats on the Internet

  • A former cybercriminal who once worked with – and betrayed – the Secret Service warns about bad actors online.
  • Brett Shannon Johnson says he worries that cybercriminals have access to more sophisticated tools than ever.
  • Johnson was once an informant for the Secret Service but continued committing identity theft on their dime.

A former cybercriminal who once worked with – and betrayed – the Secret Service warned that internet hackers have access to more sophisticated tools than ever, and he thinks they’re more motivated to steal as the economic picture gets worse.

Brett Shannon Johnson is now the chief criminal officer at Arkose Labs, a fraud prevention company. He told Insider he worries that shady corners of the web, like bot marketplace The Genesis Market, have made it easier for inexperienced criminals to commit complicated financial crimes.

“You’ve got sophisticated tools that 98% of cybercriminals simply don’t use, and what scares me right now is we’re seeing that change [to more use],” Johnson said.

Johnson says these bot marketplaces can deliver everything a low-level hacker would need to commit complicated financial crimes.

“When you visit a Genesis Market, you can search for the target that you’re wanting to get. Chase, Bank of America, Google, Walmart …. you can search for the target. It will deliver the bots that are accessing credentials for that target… So I buy the bot, and the bot delivers everything that I need,” Johnson added.

It’s likely not too difficult for Johnson to get inside the mindset of a cybercriminal. In 2005, he was arrested for internet fraud and agreed to work with the Secret Service as an informant. During his time working for the Secret Service, Johnson continued to break the law, committing identity theft online and stealing thousands of dollars before getting caught and arrested again.

“I finally served out my time, and I’m given the opportunity of turning my life around, which I took, thankfully,” Johnson said.

Insider confirmed Johnson’s criminal history using court documents and contemporary news reports.

Johnson also said he thinks an economic downturn will lead to an uptick in online financial crime.

“You’ve got a lot of people out there that would never think of breaking the law, but now because the economy is going south, they’re sitting there thinking, ‘well, how do I pay my home payment, my car payment , and put food on the table’…. Those people who usually wouldn’t break the law, they’re now adopting that attitude of ‘I’m going to do what I have to do to support my family,'” Johnson warned.

Cybercrime has been on the rise, especially when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Last month, hackers reportedly stole more than $190 million from crypto firm Nomad. A recent report by Chainanalysis estimates that the amount of money stolen in cryptocurrency heists is up 60% this year.

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