Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Tom Kelly, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Gregor Petri

Related Topics: Cloud Security

Cloud Security: Article

The Growth of Cybercrime

More people participate in cybercrime; threats continue to grow and evolve

Cybercrime saw significant growth in 2009. It increased in prevalence and geographic spread. The only thing that didn't grow was the skill level required to participate. It was easier for non-skilled attackers to conduct sophisticated attacks because of the availability of toolkits. The increase in manpower has led to an increase in most areas of cybercrime.

The growth of cybercrime has come despite a global recession that has stunted the growth of almost every other industry. The growth of cybercrime has been fueled by an increase in Internet users, especially those in developing countries.

However, businesses can protect their information from these pervasive dangers. Understanding the threat landscape is the first step. The following highlights from the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report XV can help organizations understand just what they're up against.

Cybercrime Keeps Growing
Malicious code is as prominent as ever. In 2009, Symantec identified more than 240 million distinct new malicious programs - a 100 percent increase over 2008. Last year Symantec blocked an average of 100 potential attacks per second.

Compromised confidential information continues to be an issue. Sixty percent of all data breaches that exposed identities were the result of hacking. This problem is not limited to a few larger enterprises. According to the Symantec State of Enterprise Security Report, 75 percent of all companies surveyed experienced some sort of cyber attack during the last year.

Cybercrime is a universal problem. Attackers have moved from using simple scams to launching highly sophisticated campaigns targeting some of the world's largest corporations and government entities. The scale of these attacks and the fact that they come from all over the world makes this an international problem requiring the cooperation of the private sector and global governments.

Less Skill Is Required to Engage in Cybercrime
The emergence of attack toolkits has made cybercrime available to anyone regardless of their computer knowledge and expertise. Novice computer users can purchase a kit and almost immediately begin deploying sophisticated and varied threats. Toolkits such as Zeus can be purchased for as little as $700. Some toolkits allow customization, resulting in many variants being created. Because there are an increasing number of cybercriminals entering the space, the number of threats is increasing and the number of people being affected is increasing as well.

Underground Economy a Bull
Credit cards and bank accounts continued to be the most advertised items on the underground economy in 2009 - illustrated in part by a notable increase in credit card dumps. Such dumps, which are sometimes referred to as cloned credit cards, increased by 150 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Social engineering tactics have changed to take advantage of the evolving financial landscape. More malicious messages incorporate themes such as refinancing loans, consolidating debt, reducing credit card interest rates, etc.

Enterprises Subject to More, Targeted Attacks
Cyber attacks are not just more sophisticated, they're also much more targeted. Many of them are full-fledged yet subtle campaigns. Cyber attacks remain undetected to penetrate deeply into the corporate network. While these targeted attacks have been occurring for several years, they have taken center stage recently, with incidents such as Hydraq.

Targeted attacks use zero-day vulnerabilities and spear-phishing type attacks. Attackers usually research a company and its employees by gathering information from corporate websites, news articles, social networks and other sites. Many targeted attacks aim to steal information about the organization's customers and employees, but other information - like intellectual property and corporate strategies - are also targeted.

Web-Based Attacks Are the Biggest Threat - and Are Getting Bigger
Four out of the top five attacks in 2009 targeted client-side vulnerabilities in widely used applications such as Internet Explorer and PDF readers. Suspicious PDF file downloads were the largest threat and accounted for 49 percent of all Web-based attacks, up from 11 percent in 2008.

Web browsers are also vulnerable - of the 374 vulnerabilities documented in Web browsers in 2009, 14 percent of them remain unpatched by the vendors. Firefox had the most vulnerabilities, but Internet Explorer was the most attacked. That difference illustrates cybercriminals' infatuation with market share.

What It Means
This data, as well as other information in the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, offers a perspective that can change the way users and businesses operate. It is a framework for understanding what's out there and how to navigate it.

For businesses, such navigation includes employing strategies designed to give in-depth defense, including multiple, overlapping and mutually supportive defensive systems to guard against single-point failures in any specific technology or protection methodology. Security provided by solutions such as antivirus software, firewalls and intrusion detection are crucial if an organization wants to protect its assets and its employees.

Besides ensuring personal computers and networks are protected, individual users also need to use good judgment. If websites are untested or seem questionable, users need to be alert and perhaps even stay away from those sites. Another precaution to consider is disabling scripting and active content when casually browsing the Web.

Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated, but knowing what they are up to allows businesses and individuals to place themselves strategically in the safest position possible. If you implement the right policies within your organization and use the tools that exist, you can help guard against malicious software and keep your organization's infrastructure, and the information within, safe from cybercriminals.

More Stories By Marc Fossi

Marc Fossi manages research and development for Symantec Security Response where his primary role is executive editor of the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report. The Internet Security Threat Report offers analysis and discussion of Internet threat activity and covers Internet attacks, vulnerabilities, malicious code, phishing, spam and security risks, as well as future trends.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...