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Twenty-Four Seven Security

Peter Schooff

Criminals Exploit the Cloak of the Internet

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The internet has become a major focus of criminal enterprises due to its hidden, anonymous nature, explains a recent report from McAfee. Criminals simply find it easier and more lucrative to steel from the comforts of a computer station than to jump old ladies in alleys. And that ease makes it that much easier to recruit others to engage in online crime as well.

As David Marcus, security research and communications manager for McAfee, said, For organized crime, the Internet is the best thing to come along since bootlegging and moonshine," Marcus said. "And it's a lot safer to run a botnet than it is to go to the street and break someone's kneecaps.�

The report also says that organized crime is targeting some of the top talent at high-tech schools, sponsoring their high-end education and then getting them placed in a companies to give them inside access. The sense of immunity in cyberspace helps a lot, making people more willing to engage in high-tech crime. It’s much easier to sit at Starbucks and commit wire fraud then it is to hang out in dank basements planning the next bank heist.

Considering this, McAfee says that IT departments should be prepared for a nasty escalation of threats in the future. Also, IT should start on a plan to secure hand-held devices, as those are going to become the focus of the future. The fact that hand-helds are quickly supplanting the PC for people on the road means they will soon be in the net-burglars bulls eye.

The report also reaches the following conclusions:

Cybercriminals are increasingly using phishing schemes to trick unsuspecting computer users out of their money.

Cybercriminals are focusing more on social networking and community sites to find targets. By loading fake profiles and pages with adware, spyware, and Trojans, criminal code writers are cashing in on the popularity of MySpace , FaceBook, and other places people gather.

Password proliferation means that simple guesswork often is all it takes to uncover people’s data.

With an estimated 12 million computers conscripted for botnets, botnets have clearly become the preferred method for e-thieves to launch attacks.

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Peter Schooff's blog is a daily look at what's going on in the world of computer security with an emphasis on how it affects businesses.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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