As the threat of cyberattacks peaked during the last few months, cybersecurity has gained more importance since then.
According to IPXO’s CEO latest insight about increasing IPv4 prices in the first quarter of 2021, the price of individual IPv4 addresses peaked at $32 in the first quarter of 2021 as the supply for IP resources failed to meet demand.
Vincentas Grinius, the CEO of IPXO, says that increased cybercriminal activity is a probable consequence of this price surge, as selling hijacked IP addresses turns a profit in underground markets. This increase in cybersecurity risks persists mainly due to two factors: decreased availability and IP address hoarding.
“Cybercriminals mainly capitalize on existing market problems, which the rapid price growth of IPv4 has demonstrated. By tapping into the vulnerabilities created by unequal resources, hijackers have created a lucrative black market. A possible solution to these issues is the creation of more sustainable internet governance. As IP leasing presents both a cost-efficient and accessible option for businesses, cybercriminals may be pushed out of the market by superior competition,” Grinius noted.
The pool of unallocated IPv4 addresses was utterly depleted in 2019; however, the number of devices that require IPs continued to grow. In addition, the transition to IPv6 has been slow and inefficient, leading companies to pursue quick ways of expanding IP assets. This gap between the supply and demand of IP resources makes transactions expensive and exhaustive, leading businesses to engage in IPv4 black market transactions.
Furthermore, as the IPv4 addresses traded in underground markets are sold at unregulated prices, they may even be more expensive than legal markets. In turn, this ‘incentive’ pushes cybercriminals to obtain unused and unsecured resources from unsuspecting companies to continue their nefarious activity.
The hijacking issue becomes exacerbated by companies hoarding large amounts of unused IP addresses due to their value as a commodity. They are unwilling to give up these assets, yet they lack the knowledge on how to utilize the best, which means that assets typically remain dormant.
Grinius notes that increased prices and limited accessibility mutually contribute to an increased risk of cybercrime: “Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities in two ways: firstly, they target the IPv4 addresses of companies who do not feel pressured by IPv4 depletion, unaware of what is being done to their vast reserves of IP resources. Secondly, they offer desperate companies, willing to side-step legalities, the opportunity to obtain needed IPv4 addresses quickly but at prices equal and, in some cases, higher than in legal markets.”
One of the ways the increased risk of cybercrime may be mitigated is to redistribute IPv4 resources by legal means. IPXO, for example, offers companies the ability to lease out their IPv4 resources without losing ownership of them. IP leasing may help remove the need for underground transactions in a two-fold manner.