A recent CNNMoney article looks at why cybercrime has gotten so pervasive and concluded that you have probably already been hacked!
Cybercrime and theft of personal identity elements like credit cards, bank accounts, passwords, etc. has moved from a kitchen industry populated by techy college students in countries like Bulgaria and Romania, to a dependable source of income for organized crime.
Similar to the way Russian crime gangs have infiltrated the shipping-port business, identity theft has become a commodity and they are stealing BILLIONS of dollars every year, including from the world’s largest corporations like Sony and Citigroup.
According to CNN Money, “These aren’t petty thieves. They’re committing breaches like the Sony attack that stole credit card information from 77 million customers and the Citigroup hack that stole $2.7 million from about 3,400 accounts in May. They’re organized, smart, and loaded with time and resources.
“It’s not like the Mafia, it is a Mafia running these operations,” said Karim Hijazi, CEO of botnet monitoring company Unveillance. “The Russian Mafia are the most prolific cybercriminals in the world.”
The Russian mob is incredibly talented for a reason: After the Iron Curtain lifted in the 1990s, a number of ex-KGB cyberspies realized they could use their expert skills and training to make money off of the hacked information they had previously been retrieving for government espionage purposes. Former spies grouped together to form the Russian Business Network, a criminal enterprise that is capable of some truly scary attacks. It’s just one of many organized cybercriminal organizations, but it’s one of the oldest and the largest.
“The Russians have everyone nailed cold in terms of technical ability,” said Greg Hoglund, CEO of cybersecurity company HBGary. “The Russian crime guys have a ridiculous toolkit. They’re targeting end users in many cases, so they have to be sophisticated.”
Though credit cards continue to be a source of revenue for organized crime syndicates, there’s not much money in credit card theft, so crime rings go after large corporations and sensitive information that can be sold or used for blackmail.
Globally, data breaches are expected to account for $130.1 billion in corporate losses this year, according to the Ponemon Institute. Historically, about 30% of that total cost has been direct losses attributable to the breaches, which would mean about $39 billion will stolen in 2011.