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7/14/2009
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Cisco Says Hackers Going Corporate

Partnerships are usually not something associated with hackers, but a growing number of them are pooling their resources to make their tricks more effective. In addition, the crooks are keeping up on current events and instantly developing new ruses based on them. Those are a few of the findings Cisco outlined in its midyear security report.

Partnerships are usually not something associated with hackers, but a growing number of them are pooling their resources to make their tricks more effective. In addition, the crooks are keeping up on current events and instantly developing new ruses based on them. Those are a few of the findings Cisco outlined in its midyear security report.Dynamic may be an appropriate term to characterize the hacker community. Cisco reported that the criminals have been studying successful businesses and borrowing some of their more effective strategies. Botnet owners are now renting out their networks to fellow criminals, in effect taking advantage of one industrys most recent trends, movement toward a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

Differentiation, niche businesses, is also coming to the spamming community, which generates 180 billion spam messages each day, representing about 90 percent of the world's email traffic. Many still follow the blast approach: sending out as many spam notes as they can each day. But other crooks have narrowed their focus. A few spend a lot of time cruising for news. After the outbreak of the swine flu in the spring, the cybercriminals quickly blanketed the Web with spam that advertised preventive drugs and linked to fake pharmacies. Also texting has become a popular avenue for the bad guys. At least two or three new campaigns surface each week that target handheld mobile devices.

The hacking threat is not just from external sources. Resentment from layoffs and cutbacks have sparked an increase in insider threats. Frustrated current workers, irate former employees, and disappointed contractors (whose original contract may have been altered since the economic downturn) have taken to hacking in growing numbers.

The report underscores some of the difficulties in the industry faces in thwarting hackers. This community has evolved into a well financed, highly sophisticated group, willing and able to change instantly in order to make its tricks more effective. Small and medium businesses need to be able to do the same or else they may find themselves victims of the scams.

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