Cyber crime profits running into trillions of dollars

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Cyber crime profits running into trillions of dollars

A recent warning from AT&T's chief security officer, Edward Amoroso, that the cost of cyber crime is running into trillions of dollars has been confirmed by security firm Finjan..

Earlier this month Amoroso and a panel of security experts told a US Senate Commerce Committee that revenues from cyber crime now exceed those of drugs crime, and are worth some US$1 trillion annually.

The report (PDF) also warned that techniques are rapidly evolving.

"In the mid-1990s, attacks on the infrastructure were clumsy, or so sophisticated as to be admired, but they did not cause lasting damage. But just as computing has advanced and evolved, so too has the frequency and form of attacks," Amoroso said in the report.

The warnings have now been confirmed by UK business security firm Finjan. " Our latest research suggests that, while the economic downturn is reducing the income of drug traffickers, cyber criminals are becoming ever more innovative in the ways they extract money from companies and individuals," said Yuval Ben Itzhak, Finjan's chief technology officer.

"In our Q1 2009 report on cyber crime we revealed that one single rogue-ware network is raking in US$10,800 a day, or US$39.42m a year. If you extrapolate those figures across the many thousands of cyber crime operations that exist on the internet at any given time, the results easily reach $1tn."

Ben-Itzhak added that criminals will always look for new exploitation methods as internet users become more aware of the threats. "It's against this backdrop that we can confirm Amoroso's testimony that cyber security threats have increased significantly over the past five years, and have reached the point where they pose a significant threat to all organisations," he explained.

Companies are also facing internal threats as the economic climate takes its toll on individual finances, according to Ben-Itzhak.

"We have seen a trend of unemployed IT personnel finding new and easy income by purchasing and using crime-ware toolkits sold by professional hackers. We believe that this is just the beginning of a wider trend that we will experience in 2009 and 2010," he said.

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