Online fraudsters 'steal £3.3bn'
Symantec has come out a report with details on online underground economy and stunningly reports says that online fraudsters have matured into an efficient, global marketplace in which stolengoods and fraud-related services are regularly bought and sold. The report is derived from data gathered by Symantec'sSecurity Technology and Response (STAR) organization, from undergroundeconomy servers between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.
Symantec calculated the figure to quantify the scale of fraud it found during a year-long look at the internet's underground economy.
Credit card numbers were the most popular item on sale and made up 31% of all the goods on offer.
Coming in second were bank details which made up 20% of the items being offered on criminal chat channels.
The $5.3bn figure was reached by multiplying the average amount of fraud perpetrated on a stolen card, $350 (£234), by the many millions Symantec observed being offered for sale.
Similarly, the report said, if hi-tech thieves plundered all the bank accounts it saw being offered for sale they could net up to $1.7bn.
Symantec said it was likely that many of the cards offered for sale were invalid or cancelled and bank accounts closed but it added: "These figures are indicative of the value of the underground economy and the potential worth of the market."
Credit card numbers were proving so popular among hi-tech thieves because they were easy to obtain and use for fraudulent purposes.
Many of the methods favoured by cyber criminals, such as phishing schemes, database attacks and magnetic strip skimmers, are designed to steal credit card information.
The existence of a ready market for any stolen data and the growing use of credit cards also helped maintain their popularity, it said.
"High frequency use and the range of available methods for capturing credit card data would generate more opportunities for theft and compromise and, thus, lead to an increased supply on underground economy servers," said the report.