Hackers combine expertise, virtual currency and their reputation to form partnerships, say security experts. Cisco Systems recently highlighted the increasing sophistication of hacker business models. Some of the ebb and flow of cybercriminal activity can be traced to changes in the global economy, the firm said. The firm tracked some cybercriminals brokering partnerships for parts of attack campaigns from using botnets to penetrate corporate networks, to data exfiltration and cracking encrypted passwords.
Digital currencies are not 100 percent reliable, but virtual currencies have strong built-in mechanisms, McAfee said. The researchers noted the peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin's architecture in combination with cryptography to avoid a central authority for the currency.