Out come the criminals

McAfee's latest criminology report highlights the ways in which malicious individuals across the globe can use the recession to compromise networks and steal data.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  January 19, 2009

McAfee's latest criminology report highlights the ways in which malicious individuals across the globe can use the recession to compromise networks and steal data.

Security solutions provider, McAfee announced findings from its annual cyber security study, in which experts warned that the recession is proving to be a hotbed for fraudulent activity as cyber criminals capitalise on a climate of consumer fear and general anxiety.

According to the company's virtual criminology report, the economic downturn is diverting political attention worldwide, and cyber security is not enough of a priority around the globe for real headway to be made against the perpetrators of online crime.

Cyber criminals are exploiting the global recession by luring susceptible victims with the promise of easy money.

Dave DeWalt, CEO and president of McAfee said: "Cyber criminals are exploiting the global recession by luring susceptible victims with the promise of easy money. While the attention of governments and law enforcement bodies is diverted by the economic crisis, the door is left open for cyber criminals to continue to target bank balances and to damage the consumer trust needed to aid economic recovery."

"Governments need to commit to funding the resources needed to combat cyber crime, streamline law enforcement efforts and coordinate police actions across national borders. Everyone must play their part in a global battle that has only just begun, and will continue long into 2009 and beyond if not properly addressed," he said.

This year's report from McAfee identifies some key challenges with the global credit crunch. According to the firm, cyber criminals are and will continue to cash in on consumer anxiety to profit from old-fashioned ‘get rich quick' scams.

People are signing up to add malicious code to web sites, lured by the promise of easy money.  At the same time, desperate job seekers are being recruited as ‘money mules' to launder cyber criminal gains under the guise of ‘international sales representatives' or ‘shipping managers.'

With the economic downturn driving more people to the web to seek the best deals, opportunities for cyber criminals to attack are on the rise as people are more easily drawn in.

Moreover, the report continues that as governments are focusing on the global economic downturn, the fight against cyber crime slips down their agenda of priorities, creating an opportunity for online crime to escalate in severity.

McAfee also warns that law enforcement is still bound to physical national boundaries, while cyber criminals operate fast across borders.

Communication between countries remains inconsistent and limited. Local issues and priorities take precedence over global efforts and international laws are being implemented with regional variations that impede the ability to negotiate jurisdiction and extradition between countries.

The company advocates that all these issues should and can be overcome to make the internet a safer place.

In its recently launched multipoint strategy to fight cyber crime, McAfee states that a three-pronged approach of technology and innovation, education and effective legal frameworks have to be adopted by countries world over in order to protect critical information in the new year.

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