The State of Cybercrime [STATS]

How much does it cost to buy a stolen credit card number on the black market? What about renting a botnet or setting up a fake online store designed to steal user identities?

Cybercrime involving stolen credit card numbers, money laundering, botnets and other black-hat activities is a huge business online. A new report [PDF] from PandaLabs uncovers the going price for some of the most popular kinds of cybercrime, and most Internet users would be surprised at the numbers behind common forms of online crime.

For example, you can purchase bank details for accounts with confirmed six-figure balances for $80 to $700. You can find someone to design and publish a fake online store for between $30 and $300. A credit card-cloning machine costs $200 to $1,000, and an actual fake ATM, which steals valuable credentials from anyone who uses it, can be bought for a mere $3,500.

According to a statement from PandaLabs, “This cyber-criminal black market caters to buyers’ needs just like any other business and functions in similar ways.”

“Since there is a great deal of competition in this industry, the rule of supply and demand ensures that prices are competitive, and operators even offer bulk discounts to higher-volume buyers,” the report continues. “They will offer free ‘trial’ access to stolen bank or credit card details, as well as money back guarantees and free exchanges.”

Most sellers and buyers remain relatively anonymous in these transactions, however, conducting transactions over IM apps and making and accepting payment through services like Western Union, Liberty Reserve and WebMoney.

The report also states that, while exact metrics are lacking, the business of cybercrime appears to be more prolific than ever.

“Although we don’t have precise data,” the report reads, “we believe that this nefarious business has expanded with the economic crisis. Previously it was in no way easy to locate sites or individuals dedicated to this type of business, yet now it’s relatively simple to come across these types of offers on underground forums.”

Stains of malware are also on the rise, particularly ones designed to steal bank details. Currently, trojans account for 71% of all new malware, up from 49% in 2005. And 99% of the time, malware is intended to target Windows operating systems.

“Five years ago,” the report states, “there were only 92,000 strains of malware cataloged throughout the company’s 15-year history. This figure rose to 14 million by 2008 and 60 million by 2010.”

For consumers who wish to protect themselves from this kind of cybercrime, take the following common-sense precautions:

– Sign your credit and debit cards as soon as you receive them.
– When paying by card in a brick-and-mortar store, make sure your card is always in view.
– Destroy any physical correspondence that includes your name, address, Social Security details or account numbers; and don’t let mail sit in your mailbox for too long.
– Save and destroy all your ATM receipts or destroy them.
– Clear browsing data, including cookies and temporary files, after making an online purchase.
– And of course, never save or write down your passwords, keep your antivirus software up to date and only shop online at trusted sites.

Image courtesy of Flickr, arenamontanus.

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