The Forensic Felons: The Next Generation of Cyber Thieves

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2007-04-13 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The new thieves care less about quiet entrances because they intend to meticulously clean the crime scene before they leave. They're not just covering their tracks—they're erasing them.

For years, retailers have been told that if they merely abide by common sense security procedures—don't permit obvious passwords, check audit logs regularly and patch software immediately—they'd be in good security shape.

Although there is no doubt that is still sound counsel, security consultants are describing a new breed of professional cyber thieves out there, crooks who know as much about sophisticated forensic investigations as the good guys do.

An oversimplification would be to compare the old thieves to burglars who make serious attempts to be very quiet when breaking into a house and to leave as little evidence as possible. The new thieves care less about quiet entrances because they intend to meticulously clean the crime scene before they leave. They're not just covering their tracks—they're erasing them.

The reason for this change is that it's a response to how the industry, especially banks, have responded to the first wave of attacks. The reason we're hearing about such huge numbers of cards impacted by these attacks—the TJX breach reportedly accessed the records of 46 million consumers—is that the thieves know how few of them will be active by the time they try to use them.

In other words, because the banks are getting so good at shutting down impacted accounts quickly, the thieves must grab tens of millions of account per attack in order to have a reasonable number of active accounts to use.

Read more here about the massive TJX data breach.

Javelin Strategy & Research, for example, estimates that in any large-scale attack, 99.2 percent of the numbers accessed will not be usable to the thieves.

"We're seeing only 0.8 percent of data breaches resulting in fraud," said Javelin analyst Mary Monahan. "Banks are closing these accounts rapidly. They're getting a lot better at reacting rapidly."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: The Forensic Felons: The Next Generation of Cyber Thieves



 
 
 
 
Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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