Cyber crimes becoming more organized, US official warns

22 Sep 2006

Online scams are increasingly being committed by organized crime syndicates out to profit from sophisticated ruses rather than hackers keen to make an online name for themselves, a top US official, quoted by a Reuters report, said.

The Reuters report quoted Christopher Painter, deputy chief of the computer crimes and intellectual property section at the US Department of Justice, as saying that there had been a distinct shift in recent years in the type of cyber criminals that online detectives now encounter.

'There has been a change in the people who attack computer networks, away from the 'bragging hacker' toward those driven by monetary motives,' Painter told Reuters in an interview.

Although media reports often focus on stories about teenage hackers tracked down in their bedroom, the greater danger lies in the more anonymous virtual interlopers, the report said.

'There are still instances of these 'lone-gunman' hackers but more and more we are seeing organized criminal groups, groups that are often organized online targeting victims via the Internet,' said Painter, in London for a cyber crime conference.

Typically these groups engage in ID theft, carding (the illegal use of bank cards) and so-called Botnet armies where hundreds sometimes thousands of computers are taken over and used to infect other machines, the official, quoted by Reuters, further said.

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