News & Views - Savantor

A real market for stolen personal data

Monday, 02 June 2008

It seems that process improvement is something the fraudsters are becoming better at than the legitimate players in the payments industry.  Recently fraudsters hacked the Web site of UK retailer Cotton Traders and stole the credit card details and addresses of thousands of customers.  Cotton Traders reported the incident to Barclaycard and most cards were stopped.  The retailer says all customer credit card data is encrypted on its Web site and that it has recently upgraded all security on its Web site "which has been validated by leading Industry experts".   Barn doors and horses springs to mind.

The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has issued a stark warning about the growing number of international crime gangs that are using the Internet to steal and trade confidential personal data.  The UK Threat Assessment of Serious Organised Crime report says a criminal market has evolved for the "compromise, trade and exploitation of personal data".  SOCA says international multi-skilled virtual gangs of up to 30 members - each with specialist roles, from spamming to data trading - are meeting and keeping in touch in Web forums and Internet relay chat channels.  The gangs steal personal information through phishing and installing key logging malware on victims' computers using spam e-mail.  Large databases containing the personal information of customers and employees are also being hacked.

The picture gets worse with the latest report from Message Labs 'Spam Levels Amplified Through Innovations in Exploitation'.

  • Spam – 76.8% in May the highest level in 15 months
  • Viruses – One in 170.1 emails in May contained malware
  • Phishing – One in 265.6 emails comprised a phishing attack
  • Malicious websites – 1,311 new sites blocked per day

In May, Hong Kong took the prize as the most spammed country with 85.9% of all email.  Spam levels increased in almost every region in May, and reached 73.4% in the US, 77.7% in Canada and 71.3% in the UK.  Spam levels rose across almost all industry sectors during May, with 71.1% for Finance.  The only good news seemed to be that May saw a decrease of 0.11% in the proportion of phishing attacks compared with the previous month.

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