Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cyber crime generates more money than drug trafficking

With more and more people going online and social networking becoming pervasive, cyber crime now generates more money than drug trafficking, says global cyber security solutions provider Symantec.

"Cyber crime has surpassed drug trafficking as a criminal money-maker. Every three seconds, an identity is stolen worldwide," Symantec consumer business unit vice-president for Asia-Pacific David Freer told IANS.

Cyber crime is perpetrated by hackers through a spate of attacks in the form of malware, spam, virus and bots when computers are connected to the Internet.

Hackers use spyware, fake anti-virus applications, e-mail and phishing to trick netizens into parting with their personal data and even money.

"Phony e-mails, fake websites and online advertisements trick netizens into divulging personal data such as social security and credit card numbers," Freer said at a demo of Symantec's Norton anti-virus 2010 product here.

The company's latest Internet security product equips computers to fight cyber crime with new detection technology.

Symantec's data showed cyber criminals not only steal personal information such as identity, profile and credit card numbers but also sell it to the highest bidder on the online black market.

During the beta testing of Norton 2010, Symantec detected and blocked a whopping 245 million attempted malicious code attacks every month the world over in 2008.

"The increasing use of Internet and web for a plethora of services and applications has made computers vulnerable to malicious attacks," Freer said.

Convergence of information and communication technologies (ICT), globalisation and exponential growth of information have enabled transacting goods and services in the form of e-commerce and mobile commerce.

"The phenomenal growth of Internet traffic for mailing, surfing, browsing, social networking, buying or selling expose netizens to online thieves who will stop at nothing to steal anything, be it money, identity, signature and even names," Symantec marketing head in Asia-Pacific David Hall said.

Though the $6.2-billion Symantec has been arming its customers and end-users with security solutions over the years, cyber criminals have been outsmarting them by hacking into computers to wreak havoc.

Norton 2010 leverages a new model of security, code-named Quorum, to detect new malware and go beyond traditional signature and behaviour-based detection.

Cyber criminals are furiously re-writing malware to stay undetected. But Quorum has been developed to track files, applications and attributes such as age, download source, digital signature and prevalence.

"These attributes are combined using complex algorithms to determine a reputation. As a file is distributed across the Internet and these attributes change, Quorum updates the reputation of the file, which is significant when a file is new and likely to be a threat," Hall said.

As the third largest cyber country in Asia after China and Japan, India may become a soft target for cyber crime unless the government, industry, enterprises and netizens jointly wage the war against the underworld economy.

"Since cyber criminals destroy lives more than computers, we have raised the bar for Internet security and set a new standard for the industry. The new version empowers netizens to deny digital dangers for a safe online experience," Hall claimed.

The Internet security version is priced at Rs.1,450 for a single licence and the anti-virus version is Rs.1,125 for a single user.
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