June 28, 2016
Whoever said, “if you build a better mousetrap they will come” was an entrepreneurial genius. Think about it. If this wasn’t the case, why would companies go out of their way to let us know that their product is “new and improved”? I can’t think of a society in the world that doesn’t reward progress – South American socialist dictatorships aside. No matter where you look, innovation is changing the world around us. Even in areas that most of don’t think about, business models are constantly evolving. For example, according the cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab, an on-line marketplace has arisen to sell access to more than 70,000 hacked corporate and government servers for as little as $6 each.
According to Kaspersky, the market, called xDedic, is operated by hackers and operates a lot like eBay. Apparently the business of selling stolen passwords wasn’t meeting revenue projections, so someone came up with the idea of charging a small commission on every transaction, and business, as they say, is booming. In this transaction based business model, people are able to trade information about infiltrated servers with the operators of the group verifying the quality of the surreptitiously obtained data and charging a 5% commission. This, of course, is another example of how good customer service increases both customer satisfaction and repeat business.
I think when you examine this new “hacker business model” you’ll have to agree that it really provides a “win/win” for both providers and their customers. Rather than having to go through the trouble of using an illegally obtained password to rummage through some government files looking for just the right top secret information, you can get those hypersonic missile plans in just a few minutes. I think they might even take Visa, just kidding – bit coins of course – yay block chains! These guys seem to have really taken the maxim of “giving the customer what they want” to heart.
I’m always curious as to how these types of services are actually “marketed”. I’m pretty sure no list brokers are offering “Nefarious Hackers” as one of their options, and last time I checked on Linked-In, no one had started a “Sensitive Information Access” group. I suppose word of mouth, customer referrals and the google ad words equivalent on Tor are really what drives the business. When your Iranian counterpart can tell you that they were really satisfied with the ICBM plans they got, you can feel pretty sure that they’re going to a good job for you. Kind of like Angie’s list. One group even set itself up as an invitation only marketplace. Interesting, but aren’t guys like Guccifer going to get their feelings hurt if they are left of the list? Whatever their marketing plan, they appear to be very successful. With access to over 70,000 corporate and government servers these guys have really taken things up a notch. I’m not sure if Walmart has that many SKU’s.
Despite our concerns about things like our social security and credit card numbers, as well as Hillary’s emails, falling into the wrong hands, you do have to respect these guys’ commitment to continual improvement. When you’ve built your business to the point that you are the one stop shop for anything, you have a commitment to excellence that your rivals can only envy. In this case, you may never get your picture on the cover of Fortune or be featured in the Wall Street Journal, but to those in the know, you are a recognized visionary in your field and the inventor of a truly better mousetrap.