TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Internet Gangs Recruit on Line; Hire Students to Write Viruses

Internet Gangs Recruit on Line; Hire Students to Write Viruses

Peter Griffiths, Reuters (
Fri, 08 Dec 2006 14:26:15 -0600

By Peter Griffiths

Organized gangs have adopted "KGB-style" tactics to hire high-flying
computer students to commit Internet crime, a report said on Friday.

Criminals are targeting universities, computer clubs and online forums
to find undergraduates, according to Internet security firm McAfee.

Some gangs have sponsored promising students from other disciplines to
attend computer courses before planting them in businesses as

McAfee said the students write computer viruses, commit identity theft
and launder money in a multi-billion dollar industry that is more
lucrative than the drugs trade.

The gangs' tactics echo the way Russian agents sought out experts at
trade conferences or universities during the Cold War, the company
said in an annual report.

"Although organized criminals may have less of the expertise and
access needed to commit cybercrimes, they have the funds to buy the
necessary people to do it for them," the report says.

McAfee said its study was based partly on FBI and European

In Eastern Europe, some people are lured into "cybercrime" because of
high unemployment and low wages.

"Many of these cybercriminals see the Internet as a job opportunity,"
McAfee quoted FBI Internet security expert Dave Thomas as
saying. "With low employment, they can use their technical skills to
feed their family."

Hackers are paid to write computer viruses that can infect millions of
machines to discover confidential information or send unwanted "spam"

This "spyware" can detect credit card numbers or other personal
information which is then used by fraudsters.

Criminals trawl through social networking Web sites which allow people
to leave their pictures and personal details.

Their research helps them to target "phishing" attacks, where people
are sent fraudulent emails to trick them into revealing credit card

Hackers are increasingly hired to spy on businesses, McAfee said.
"Corporate espionage is big business," it added.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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