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Evolving Malware Industry Revitalizes Traditional Cyber Crimes

Craig Schmugar, Threat Researcher, and Anthony Bettini, Product Manager, McAfee Labs, have said that as the malware industry evolves, it continuously facilitates the future prosperity of the tried as well as tested areas of cyber crime, as reported by V3 on October 8, 2009.

Schmugar and Bettini indicated that new life had sprung in the traditional penny stock or 'pump-and-dump' stock scams due to the evolution of web 2.0 services and the rapid dissemination of fresh information (whether trusted or otherwise).

Moreover, cyber criminals could further take advantage of web 2.0 technologies to execute phishing operations. With users posting ever increasing information on the Internet, criminals find it easy to design and launch targeted 'spear phishing' assaults that are more persuasive than before.

As users begin open sourcing personal information, it primarily creates a base where phishers can hunt data, said Bettini.

Online miscreants have been exploiting social-networking websites more and more for the dissemination of the Koobface virus that contaminates a user's PC, which is then used for spreading infection on more computers even as the user remains totally unaware.

The virus propagates through malicious web-links and they (links) are posted on a member's own social-networking profile. Further, it includes 'scareware' that convinces the user to pay for fake antivirus software.

Rob Housman, Executive Director of the Cyber Secure Institute, said that social networking connect everyone closer together which in turn exposed everyone to malicious attacks. Unlike before, people were increasingly using social networks, with more than 300 Million people use Facebook and Twitter, expanding at a huge 1,382% every year, as reported by BusinessWire on October 7, 2009.

Moreover, the strength of social networks is equivalent to that of their most feeble links therefore a single user's risk becomes all others' risk. Conversely, the sheer magnitude of these networks allows hackers to spread worms across them much faster and wider.

Security analysts further observed that online rumors like the recent fake news of the demise of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, made grounds for stock mishandling and financial frauds.

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