With the rise in ransomware and cyberattacks on businesses of all sizes, executives need to be vigilant about protecting their business and protecting their data. Here’s the challenge: new forces are going to make this harder than ever before.

Consider this: As demand for IPv4 resources rise, shortages of supply have increased IP address prices. And we all know what it means when there is low supply: that resource is a hot commodity and ripe for the picking, so the speak. Quite simply, the result will likely be increased cyberattacks and hijacked IP addresses. Who could have ever imagined that? Well, the bad guys, of course!

Let’s explore the numbers. IPXO suggests 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. Further, the company’s CEO Vincentas Grinius says increased cybercriminal activity is a probable consequence of this price surge, as selling hijacked IP addresses turns a profit in underground markets. Yikes.

Will this improve soon? Likely not. This increase in cybersecurity risks will continue due to two main reasons: decreased availability and IP address hoarding, according to IPXO. Let’s take a closer look at both of these.

First up, decreased availability. IPXO says the pool of unallocated IPv4 addresses was depleted in 2019; however, the number of devices that require IPs continued to grow. In addition, the transition to IPv6 has been slow, 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.

What’s more, 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.

To the second point, companies are more often hoarding large amounts of unused IP addresses. They are unwilling to give up these assets, and yet they lack the knowledge how to use them—or quite frankly, they lack the need for them—leaving many IP address inactive.

IPXO says with more than 800 million IPv4 addresses currently not used, a supply of prime targets for hijacking attempts by fraudsters seeking to re-sell them under the record-high market price is becoming more prevalent. A cybercriminal who can steal a large IP address block (such as /16 or 65,536 IP addresses) can earn thousands of dollars each month.

Here’s another problem: Static IP addresses are rarely secured properly. Since most of them have been acquired before shortages became a concern and were later forgotten, hijacking attempts are rarely detected. In particular, IPv4 hijacking disrupts the normal routing network to illegitimately take control of IP addresses. Like any other cyber hijacking, business owners would have to take lengthy and expensive legal action. Yikes.

Is your company a sitting duck? Do you have unsecured, dormant IP addresses? There might be some solutions here. For one, companies can redistribute IPv4 resources legally. As an example, IPXO offers companies the ability to lease out their IPv4 resources without losing ownership of them. It’s a win, win. It enables unused addresses to reenter the market and audits all IP addresses that enter the market. IPXO prevents reputable IPs from abuse, protecting large companies from IP hijacking and preventing them from leaking into the black market.

This is, of course, simply one solution. One thing is for certain. All companies need to be aware of all of their cyber assets. Nefarious characters are smart and tricky, often looking for obvious vulnerabilities and an easy way in. Today’s business executive needs to protect against it. If we don’t the guys will continue to steal the things we value the most—our security.

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