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Hackers use YouTube to sell stolen credit card numbers, group says

Grant Gross | June 18, 2014
YouTube has thousands of videos promoting compromised credit card numbers, with the site sometimes running advertisements for legitimate credit cards or retail outlets alongside the hacker videos, according to a new report from an online safety group.

YouTube's efforts right now focus on scrubbing videos after they are uploaded, but they keep coming back, Galvin said. The issue "is not being solved from a systemic standpoint," he added. "We've kind of made it a cause to keep pushing on Google to clean that up. I think we've only had moderate success on that front."

Asked why the latest report focuses solely on YouTube, Galvin said its size matters. "We've focused on YouTube because of the fact that ads run next to/during these videos promoting dangerous/illegal activities," he said by email. "We understand that platforms will have questionable things on them, but the fact that Google monetizes these videos on YouTube (the third most visited website) makes it different and we think noteworthy."

The Digital Citizens Alliance has issued about 20 reports since late 2012, including reports on Silk Road, Chinese counterfeits and Bitcoin in recent months, he noted. "Our work has looked at a whole range of topics, most of which have nothing to do with Google," Galvin said.

Galvin didn't disclose specifically where the group's funding comes from but members include Internet security groups, child safety groups and consumer groups. The group doesn't publish a list of its full membership, because of the "sometimes sensitive nature" of its investigations, he said.

Members of the group's advisory board include representatives of the National Consumers League, i-SAFE and the Association for Competitive Technology, a trade group focused on app developers but historically aligned with Google rival Microsoft.

 

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