Cybercrime is big money for hackers

Source : CNN

In the early days of the Internet boom, some thought we would enter an era where there would be one integrated world economy with no borders, where we would share similar democratic values, and where governments would be less important and civil society could pick up many governmental tasks.

But that turned out not to be the case. Many countries don’t share our values. There are conflicts, and the Internet has become a good place for these conflicts to play out.

One outcome is espionage, whether it is the National Security Agency listening to foreign leaders or China’s People’s Liberation Army stealing trade secrets. Another outcome is cybercrime.

It seems every month there is a story about a giant retailer being hacked and the personal data of hundreds of thousands of people being stolen by faceless cybercriminals. The last big story was Target. This week it’s eBay, where hackers stole electronic credentials from eBay employees and used the credentials to access and steal customers’ data.

According to one estimate, more than 800 million records were stolen in 2013. Fortunately, that doesn’t actually mean all 800 million people suffered financial loss. Only a small fraction of people who have their data taken become victims of fraud or theft, because it is hard for criminals to “monetize” data — to turn your personal information into cash. But the cleanup costs for the victimized company can be gigantic. After Target’s hack, its CEO was fired for not doing enough.

Cybercrime is a growth industry and online security breaches are not going to stop any time soon.

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