Bad News About the Bad Guys

Carl Weinschenk

The writer of this Computerworld story -- which looks at a report by Symantec on the state of cyber security -- appropriately calls the picture that emerges as "gloomy" and "sometimes disturbing."


The reasons the report perhaps is even more dire than others that focus on Internet security -- quite a trick, we know -- is that it describes a great maturity on the part of the bad guys. The picture of identity thieves and other scoundrels as isolated pizza-eating malcontents who stay up nights plying their trade is fading. That reassuring image at least suggests that their psyches are fragile enough for them to be stopped with the application of enough pressure.


We recently read stories at Dark Reading and WebKnowHow that disproved those stereotypes. This more accurate picture is verified in the Symantec research, which shows that the world inhabited by these criminals is resilient, rational and deep, despite its illicit status. Indeed, once a criminal enterprise is established, it enjoys certain advantages: Cracker communities don't have to worry about Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA or antitrust regulations.


The story is helpful in fleshing out this world. The monies paid for a filched identity, the writer says, varies according to whether only a snippet is stolen or if the entire persona -- name address, bank and credit card numbers, etc. -- is included. The story also has interesting information where most of the crackers are. Surprisingly, about half of the underground servers Symantec found are in the United States.

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