Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly professional and business-like when sending spam and malicious software to millions of computers worldwide.
According to a new report by security software maker Symantec Corp sophisticated thieves sell code to criminal middlemen for as much as £500 a programme.
Middlemen then push the code to consumers, who are duped into participating in a scam, or may have their passwords, financial data and other personal details stolen and used by identity theft rings.
It’s believed that just three off-the-shelf ‘toolkits’, used by criminals to create their own scams, are responsible for almost half of the so-called ‘phishing’ attacks.
Crooks use phishing messages to try to steal personal and financial information by tricking people into entering private information on to bogus websites
Some hackers lock middlemen into long-term contracts so they can push the newest cons on to consumers and make up for security measures put in place to stop their programmes working.
Other findings in the report show that there is a huge underground economy in the sale of stolen personal information online – places where thieves barter over the sale of credit card numbers, identity card numbers and other data.
It’s believed that the amount of money made from computer attacks still outweighs the danger.
‘These people are taking a huge risk, and either they’re stupid – which we don’t believe is the case – or they are making big money,’ said Alfred Huger, vice president of Symantec Security Response.