Global cybercrime generated more cash than drug trafficking last year and is set to get worse as developing countries see a higher take-up of technology.
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Valerie McNiven, who advises the US Treasury on cybercrime, told Reuters news agency that cybercrime outstripped the $105bn (£62bn) generated from the sale of illegal drugs in 2004.
McNiven, speaking at a conference in Saudi Arabia on information security in the banking sector, said phishing attacks were an important factor in the increased proceeds generated by overall cybercrime.
She said fake banking websites and hoax e-mails aimed at banking customers had a more immediate effect on customers in developing countries, and the problem was set to get worse because of a lack in underlying internet security.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an industry body set up to monitor and counter phishing threats, has said that “blended” phishing attacks are an increasing problem.
Blended attacks see hoax bank e-mails being sent to banking customers that include spyware and viruses, as well as links to fake bank sites designed to steal customers’ account log-in details.
At the turn of the year UK police foiled a multi-million pound fraud attempt on a Japanese bank in London, which had seen key-logging software being remotely stored on the bank’s computers.