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Who is winning the war on cybercrime?

Lia Timson and Liam Tung (via SMH) | July 15, 2013
A banking trojan - malicious software - has been installed to hijack bank transfers across Australia.

Krebs says the takedowns and arrests are positive steps in the fight against cybercrime, but they may not be a deterrent for all. "It seems clear that only a very tiny fraction of people involved in cybercrime ever are brought to justice for their role in this economy," Krebs says.

"I spend a great deal of time on a large number of underground forums dedicated to credit card and identity theft and all manner of cybercrimes, and it seems that not only are the numbers of forums that help people get started in this industry increasing, but these forums are now more popular than ever."

Krebs says most online scammers make little money and rely on user-friendly downloadable tools offered by other members of the underground. He believes there is only a relatively small number of organised cyber criminal organisations. Campana says there may be only a handful of "families" in Eastern Europe, Brazil and Asia. Many of them are already under active criminal investigations.

"The reality is the folks who are offering turkey solutions - be they cash-out services, malware writers, bot installation kits or exploit kits, or spam rentals - really drive the underground economy. And business is booming," Krebs says.

We're not losing
Dmitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike, a security consultancy to corporations and governments, says most countries want to collaborate to identify and prosecute cyber criminals, but, like all crime, cybercrime will always be with us.

"It's certainly becoming harder for criminals to get away with it as prosecution is starting to catch up and arresting these crooks more often but others continue to join their ranks all over the world," he says.

"I think spam is one area where the volumes have dropped down precipitously. Of course, low-volume phishing attacks and web-based scams have taken their place, so it's hard to call it a complete victory."

While it is hard to say who is winning, Phil Kernick, security expert with CQR, says society is not losing. "Criminals are making more money than they ever made, but so is society - the internet is tremendously useful," Kernick says.

Corey Nachreiner, director of security strategy for Watchguard Technologies, says everyone needs to understand how cyber criminals operate in order to protect themselves. "Some are specifically targeting very small victims because they stay under the radar.

"I don't think home consumers should go crazy with it, but they need to realise they need to be careful with visiting a website that can infect their computer."

The bank returned Ballesty's money, but not before his business accounts were frozen, without him being able to process wages and other payments for a week. A security adviser from the bank even delivered a list of security measures the business must adopt, including staff cyber-awareness training and a warning it won't refund moneys lost to the same scam again.

Ballesty says he and his staff are a lot more cautious with their online activities now, even on their breaks and outside work hours.


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