Minggu, 07 Februari 2010

The Top 10 Kinds of Cybercriminals

The digital era has its own cast of evil characters, and while they may not have a pirate's swagger or a train robber's dash, they certainly do pose a challenge to people who would like to keep the cyberworld a safe place for entertainment, information and business.

So who are this era's most notorious hombres? Here's our "wanted list":

  1. Malware Authors: These are the guys who write and distribute viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other bits of digital nastiness. They force people and businesses to spend huge sums of money on anti-malware technologies that rob systems of their power and performance. Malware authors are the scum of the earth — but you already knew that.
  2. Phishers: Your bank account is about to expire and you must immediately update your information. Not really: It's just another low-life phisher trying to steal your personal information and, most likely, your identity, by directing you to a bogus Web site. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an association of retailers and financial institutions focused on eliminating Web-based fraud, says it finds about 20,000 to 30,000 unique phishing Web sites each month
  3. Hoaxsters: Get any emails from Nigeria lately? How about an "urgent message" from a British lord? An overseas job offer, perhaps? In all of these cases, you were probably pitched some type of funds- transfer deal. But, as too many people have already learned, the only money that's ever transferred in these schemes is from the victim to the hoaxster.
  4. Scammers: Your email inbox is probably full of scammers' handiwork, including offers for discount pharmaceuticals, time-shares, health foods, gadgets and the like. Send these guys your credit-card number — or, worse yet, cash — and all you'll receive in return is angst.
  5. Online Loan Sharks: A six-figure loan with no collateral or income verification? Sure. And would you like some whipped cream and a cherry on top of that, too? Unlike scammers, online loan sharks promise to send you money. Unfortunately, the cyberbandit will ask for an up-front fee to "process the application," and that's the only money that will ever change hands.
  6. Spammers: These guys are criminals in the sense that they steal your time. Unlike phishers, hoaxsters and other email abusers that intend to separate you from your personal information and/or money, spammers flood your email inbox with ads (for both legitimate and illegitimate products), political diatribes, jokes, dire warnings of supposedly pending laws and other gibberish. Spammers may not be the most dangerous cybercriminals, but they are certainly among the most annoying. Spammers also inflict a real financial cost by draining network bandwidth and forcing service providers, enterprises and many individual users to install expensive and often imperfect anti-spam technologies.
  7. Auction Fraudsters: You were overjoyed when you won that Louis XVI gold clock on eBay. The euphoria subsided, however, when the clock arrived. The timepiece hardly resembled its online photo, looking more like an object that might grace the boardwalk at Coney Island than the Palace of Versailles. Oh well, at least you received something, which is more than many victims of auction fraudsters can claim.
  8. Bogus Prize Promoters: "Congratulations, you've won the Fredonia National Lottery." All you've really won, of course, is a chance to be hung up and fleeced as the "lottery officials" engage you in a complex scheme involving up-front fees and bogus checks.
  9. Media Pirates: Who needs iTunes when you can just swipe a song or video off of LimeWire or another P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing service? Nobody gets hurt, right? Well, nobody but the people who worked hard to create the media. Your conscience might take a beating, too.
  10. Social Parasites: Social-networking sites, instant-messaging networks, online dating services and Web classifieds are full of them: people who pretend to be someone they're not. Some of these characters target naive and vulnerable people to swindle them out of their money. Other parasites impersonate people, such as celebrities, in a sad attempt to smear their reputation or grab a small piece of glory. In either case, social parasites are a scourge of Internet society

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