New technology – the Internet, e-commerce, blogging are but a few examples – has oftentimes the potential to vastly affect how society operates. Just think of how much time we now spend dealing with email – to the point that no one bothers to even walk across the aisle to the next cubicle. At the same time, new technology nicely plays into the hands of evil-doers as PC Magazine‘s Erik Larkin reports in a special 5-part series on the Web of Crime.
“Attacks on personal and business PCs aren’t just being committed by amateurs anymore. You – or your business – may be the next target of a new breed of professional Internet criminals, who now apply underworld tactics to the Web. These cybercrooks use malicious software such as viruses and worms to generate illegal profits. One security expert we interviewed called this type of crime the cocaine trade of the new century.” In his five-part series, Erik shows you the global scope of the problem and how innocent PCs are turned into zombie armies used to threaten and extort money from businesses.
- Enter the Professionals: “The life that we had with the so-called pranksters instead of the pros is likely to end,” says Shane Coursen, senior virus researcher at Kaspersky Lab, maker of security software. “If you exist as a business on the Internet, you should be greatly concerned.”
- Zombie PC Armies Designed to Suck Your Wallet Dry: Botnets began to emerge as money-making tools when spammers discovered that they could be use them to send e-mail messages that would evade blacklists and other antispam measures.
- Internet Gangs Go Global: In the past, hackers and writers of malicious software (aka malware) were seeking attention and notoriety. Creators of viruses and worms were looking for bragging rights. Now they’re after money – and they’re finding it.
- Internet Sieges Can Cost Businesses a Bundle: Online attacks can be expensive. A 2004 PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 1000 businesses in the UK found that, on average, companies spent more than $17,000 on their worst security incident that year. For large companies, that amount was closer to $210,000, the study found. For companies of either size, most of the loss was due to the disruption in their ability to do business, with expenses for troubleshooting the incident and actual cash spent responding to it accounting for considerably less.
- Who’s Catching The Cybercrooks?: Despite some success, law enforcement officials say that cybercrime is extremely hard to get a handle on. That’s because it thrives in countries like Russia and China that have weak computer crime laws or lax enforcement. In such cases, catching cybercriminals outside U.S. jurisdiction becomes nearly impossible.