Latest research commissioned by Juniper Networks has found the online black market demonstrates many similarities to other free markets.
The Hacker Economics study by the RAND Corporation found the cyber black market is a mature economy with a solid economic structure.
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Juniper Networks Australia security director, Greg Bunt, said the sophistication, reliability, accessibility and resilience of the black market mirrors that of the real world.
"This economy is working in exactly the same way to any nation state that is trying to invest in its people, has a healthcare system, education, and training," he said.
Bunt adds the market itself seems to be following "very tried and true" economic principles.
"They're building in all sorts of sophistication and reliability into the system that means there is no single point of failure," he said.
Not for hobbyists
Cybercrime has had an underground image until now, and Bunt admits the online black market wants to be viewed as "underground".
"It certainly doesn't want to be in the foreground, but it's certainly not immature and behaving in a way that is not your backyard type interaction," he said.
"This is a real business and not a bunch of individuals that are interested in doing this as a hobby."
As for the key takeaway from the report, Bunt said it proves security is not an event but an ongoing process.
"People should move away from legacy perspectives of security, which may be thought of a fortress type model," he said.
"In order to protect against advanced persistent threats, you have to be in a mindset where there may be a breach in your network somewhere."
Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.