Cyber crime is a threat to global economy, says researcher

Halting cyber crime could have a positive impact on the global economy, says Intel Security Europe security researcher and CTO

Halting cyber crime could have a positive impact on the global economy, according to Intel Security Europe security researcher and CTO Raj Samani.

“Some estimates put the cost of cyber crime to the global economy at more than $445bn, but the true cost is far greater as many countries do not report on this,” he told a NEDForum summit in London.

However, Samani suggested a better measure of the impact of cyber crime is in terms of job losses, currently estimated at more than 150,000 a year in Europe alone.

Even a single cyber attack can have a significant economic impact, he said, such as the attack on US retailer Target in 2013, which affected 40 million credit and debit cards.

Up to three million of the payment card details were believed to have been sold on the black market and used for fraud before issuing banks cancelled the rest.

Cyber crime is also increasingly affecting individuals whose bank accounts are raided, as banking institutions begin to take a harder line about what losses they will and will not cover.

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“Banks are tightening up and reimbursements are no longer guaranteed, but despite this, the impact of cyber crime is still not widely known or fully understood,” said Samani.

His research has shown that traditional crime is becoming increasingly cyber-enabled, with a growing number of cyber crime services becoming available.

“The continual evolution of the cyber crime-as-a-service market means that criminals require little or no skill in cyber to benefit from cyber-enabled crime. They just need the means to pay,” said Samani.

Would-be cyber criminals are now even able to use mainstream online auction sites to purchase such services, which used to be available only from dark markets on the dark net.  

“Criminal services now provide all the research, crimeware and infrastructure necessary to carry out and benefit from cyber-enabled crime,” said Samani.

Some suppliers even provide crimeware on a low-cost rental basis that guarantees the latest functionality, backed by full support and possibly a service-level agreement.

“A distributed denial-of-service attack to take down a competitor can cost as little as $2 an hour, and yet have a substantial economic impact on the target company,” said Samani.

Gambling site cyber crime

Research has also shown that cashing out on gambling sites is extremely easy, with services available to hide illegal transactions and money transfers among online gambling site transactions.

Samani said criminals use both licensed gaming sites, of which there are around 3,000, and unlicensed gambling sites, of which there are about 25,000, to launder money using crypto currencies like Bitcoin.

“There is no visibility for law enforcement officers of money transfers that happen between players within the gambling site and no documentation is required to register for these services,” he said.

Samani said the research into the cyber crime market shows the emergence of a whole new breed of cyber criminal.

“As a result, the volume of cyber attacks is likely to increase, and current trends and data suggest that this is exactly what we are seeing,” he said.

However, in recognising the scale of the threat of cyber crime, Samani said it is important not to lose sight of the opportunities created by the internet.

“The internet provides a world of opportunity for everyone, so we must all work together to find ways of managing risk down to a comfortable level,” he said.

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