Spammers Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
In the first successful criminal prosecution under the United States’ CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, two American men were sentenced to prison after being convicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and obscenity. The two were also ordered to give up more than $1.1 million U.S. in illegal profits gained through their spamming operation.
Russian Firm Viewed as Online Crime Hub
The Russian Business Network, an Internet business based in St. Petersburg, is said to be responsible for hosting websites that carry out a major part of the world’s cyber-crime, according to industry experts. Reports say that the company sells website hosting to groups propagating online crime, with links to child pornography, piracy, spamming, and cyber scams. Groups operating through the company’s computers are believed to be behind around half of last year’s phishing incidents.
Severity of Security Breaches on the Rise
According to a study by the Computing Technology Industry Association, while the quantity of security breaches may be down, the average severity has doubled. The study also revealed that IT professionals are increasing their spending on security technology, training and certification, as threats become more sophisticated. The top security concern reported by IT professionals is spyware, closely followed by the need for more awareness by computer users.
International Scam Crackdown Nets $2 Billion U.S.
More than $2.1 billion U.S. has been seized in fake checks, along with 77 arrests made worldwide, following a concentrated effort aimed at uncovering financial scams this year. Often perpetuated by West African organized crime groups, the scams involved spamming out e-mails duping recipients into depositing fake checks in order to claim a “processing fee.” According to authorities, arrests were made in the Netherlands, Nigeria, Canada, and the U.S.
Arrest Made in Two Alleged DDoS Attacks
Gregory King of California, U.S. has been arrested for allegedly using a botnet to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Killanet, a gaming and graphic design forum, and CastleCops, a site dedicated to online security. If convicted of all four counts of electronic transmission of codes to cause damage to protected computers, King faces a maximum of 40 years in prison as well as a fine of $1 million U.S.
Spam Levels Soar in Asia
Research shows that all countries in the Asia Pacific region, except for Australia and New Zealand, produce more spam than the current global average. While the global average is 61 percent, almost 90 percent of all e-mail sent from Asian countries is spam, according to data from Symantec. The escalation is attributed to rapid broadband growth in the area combined with lack of basic online security precautions, resulting in many PCs being vulnerable to malware.
By the Numbers
Percentage of consumer PCs in the U.S. that are not protected (defined as having up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a correctly configured firewall)
Percentage of PC users who believe they are protected
Source: National Cyber Security Alliance and McAfee Inc. study
Term of the Month
Rogue security software masquerades as a helpful security program, but uses malware or malicious tools to advertise or compel users to pay for the removal of non-existent spyware. Rogue software makers often use social engineering to trick consumers into buying their fraudulent anti-spyware or anti-virus products.
You have anti-spyware, anti-virus, and a firewall, so your computer must be secure, right? Wrong. Unless this software is enabled, updated, and properly configured, you are not protected from online threats. According to a recent industry survey, consumers overestimate PC safety – see our "By the Numbers" section for the stats. Make sure to maintain your security software; check that your security applications are both enabled and configured correctly. Keep in mind, the security software that was included with your PC when you purchased it may be a trial version that will expire if you fail to buy a subscription.