Cybercrime may be bloodless, yet it is far from being without cost. The combined value of global market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin ($288 billion) still cannot top the total global annual cost of cybercrime ($388 billion) estimated for last year. Cybercrime also touches our life more significantly than one may think, as 14 adults fell victim to cybercrime every second.
#1 Attack of the Zombies
Botnets are a network of vast numbers of infected “zombie” computers that can be remotely controlled through the internet. It is the most crucial tool to cybercrime’s profitability, enabling cybercriminals to act on a large scale. The Mariposa botnet, for instance, infected 12.7 million personal computers in more than 190 countries and more than 3,000 smartphones, before being dismantled in 2010 by Spanish authorities.
#2 Gone Phishing
All that SPAM you get in your inbox has a devious purpose. Mass mailing technology provides a cost-effective means for cybercriminals to scale up their activity because believe it or not some Internet users are easily manipulated by the prospect of receiving financial rewards. Characterized by phishing activities and frauds, social engineering is a key feature of many cybercriminal method which includes a variety of internet scams to trick users to divulge confidential information or to con victims out of their money.
#3 Anti-Social Networks
Social networking sites have been used as recruitment and initiation tool as well as training grounds for cybercriminals. These sites are also used by cybercriminals to deploy malicious code through posted items, enabling the transformation of careless users’ computers into an army of “zombie” computers to be used in cyber attacks.
# 4 Online pickpockets
Getting your payment card data is one of the oldest digital scams in the book and is still the gold of Internet criminals. Organized crime groups can easily use stolen credit card details to withdraw money in different countries and continents or to purchase transport and accommodation online, making it difficult to trace the money trail.
#5 Piggybacking your connection
Open wireless networks enable cybercriminal to gain Internet access without identifying themselves. Because most people leave their connections on all the time, users expose their personal data in insecure environment for a longer period of time. Things are only more complicated now that companies offer employees smartphones and thus full access to corporate resources through their mobile devices. Cybercriminals have targeted handheld devices such as iPhone and Blackberries to steal information from corporate servers.
To read about even more enablers of cybercrime, as well as ways to reduce cybercrime visit our full report, Organized Crime Enablers.
Author: Navitri Putri Guillaume is Knowledge Manager, Global Agenda Councils at the World Economic Forum.
Image: A skull flag waves over the “Chaos Communication Camp – The International Hacker Meeting in Berlin. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke