Cybercrime Hype Alert
It seems to be the season for cybercrime hype. First, we have this article from CNN, which seems to have no actual news:
Computer hackers will open a new front in the multi-billion pound “cyberwar” in 2007, targeting mobile phones, instant messaging and community Web sites such as MySpace, security experts predict.
As people grow wise to email scams, criminal gangs will find new ways to commit online fraud, sell fake goods or steal corporate secrets.
And next, this article, which claims that criminal organizations are paying student members to get IT degrees:
The most successful cyber crime gangs were based on partnerships between those with the criminals skills and contacts and those with the technical ability, said Mr Day.
“Traditional criminals have the ability to move funds and use all of the background they have,” he said, “but they don’t have the technical expertise.”
As the number of criminal gangs looking to move into cyber crime expanded, it got harder to recruit skilled hackers, said Mr Day. This has led criminals to target university students all around the world.
“Some students are being sponsored through their IT degree,” said Mr Day. Once qualified, the graduates go to work for the criminal gangs.
The aura of rebellion the name conjured up helped criminals ensnare children as young as 14, suggested the study.
By trawling websites, bulletin boards and chat rooms that offer hacking tools, cracks or passwords for pirated software, criminal recruiters gather information about potential targets.
Once identified, young hackers are drawn in by being rewarded for carrying out low-level tasks such as using a network of hijacked home computers, a botnet, to send out spam.
The low risk of being caught and the relatively high-rewards on offer helped the criminal gangs to paint an attractive picture of a cyber criminal’s life, said Mr Day.
As youngsters are drawn in the stakes are raised and they are told to undertake increasingly risky jobs.
Criminals targeting children—that’s sure to peg anyone’s hype-meter.
To be sure, I don’t want to minimize the threat of cybercrime. Nor do I want to minimize the threat of organized cybercrime. There are more and more criminals prowling the net, and more and more cybercrime has gone up the food chain—to large organized crime syndicates. Cybercrime is big business, and it’s getting bigger.
But I’m not sure if stories like these help or hurt.