Scary Spyware Trends
It used to be that when you thought of cyber crime you imagined a teenager sitting at his computer in his basement trying to hack into some government agency. And he just wanted to make a name for himself.
Those days are gone. Cyber crime is becoming more organized, according to top U.S. officials.
"There has been a change in the people who attack computer networks, away from the 'bragging hacker' toward those driven by monetary motives," Christopher Painter, with the Department of Justice Computer Crime section, told Reuters. "There are still instances of these 'lone-gunman' hackers but more and more we are seeing organized criminal groups, groups that are often organized online targeting victims via the Internet."
The real danger today lies in what are called "anonymous virtual interlopers". They focus on identification theft, illegal use of bank and credit cards and creating Botnet armies that can hijack hundreds or thousands of computers in an effort to infect other systems.
Profiting from these scams seems to be the name of the game now. Several recently released industry reports have found that malware creators are making money from their code and are therefore creating increasing numbers of sophisticated Trojans and bots.
One recent criminal indictment alleged a convicted bot-herder, Jeanson James Ancheta, received $150 for each of 1,000 infected computers.
Cyber crime is a big business. The FBI (American Federal Bureau of Investigation) estimates that computer crime in general in the U.S. costs industry about $400 billion. In Britain the Department of Trade and Industry said computer crime had jumped by 50 percent in the last two years alone.
And industry analysts expect the problem to only get worse. Gartner researchers expect spyware to infect up to 50 percent of companies in the next two years.
The question is no longer if you'll be affected, but when.