Computer Crime Research Center


McAfee on cybercrime

Date: July 05, 2005

Cybercriminals have split into different classes, ranging from amateur cyber delinquents to professional cyber gangs, but they both share the same purpose of finding new ways to systematically commit illegal acts, according to McAfee's Virtual Criminology Report.

The findings have also discovered that information theft is the most damaging category of Internet crime, while viruses have been the most costly to businesses.

Before 2000, McAfee said that cybercriminals committed most of the crimes alone in an attempt to win fame in the cyber world, however, recently, cybercriminals have become more organised and professional because of the huge financial gains that can be made from the Internet without much risk.

Jimmy Kuo, the research fellow with McAfee AVERT, said that the report paints a clear picture of the growing threats and criminal actions taking place via the Internet.

"It is imperative that companies, government agencies and consumers alike take notice of this expanding class of criminals and take the appropriate actions to secure their networks and personal computers."

The report has found that the FBI estimates that cybercrime cost about US$400 billion in 2004; 28 people from six countries were arrested for being involved with one single global organised cybercrime; and the use of pseudonyms or online identities provides an anonymity that is attractive to criminals.

The 28 people who were arrested were involved with websites to buy and sell credit card information and false identities. They ended up buying and selling 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, creating a loss to financial institutions of about US$4.3 million.

In addition, the report found that only five percent of cybercrimanls are ever caught or convicted.

McAfee also stated that criminal classes have evolved because in its early stages, the Internet was designed mainly for a finite group of users who used it as a way to exchange ideas and information among a relatively small community. However, the value and impact of Internet activities have escalated dramatically with its continued commercialism and expansion, attracting more and more criminals. For instance, in 2004, e-commerce reached US$70 billion in the U.S., an increase of 24 percent over 2003.
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