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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

IT Consulting News: Cyber Criminals Cost Government Billions and Mix with Mafia

According to the FBI, online criminals cost the U.S. over $67 billion last year as they paid many IT consulting firms to help them fix security breaches and increase general security on their computers and in networks.

A particular website recently offered the sale of stolen credit card information for $100, but an FBI agent Thomas X Grasso, Jr. also noticed the title of the poster identified the criminal as a “Capo di capo,” what Mafia bosses call themselves. Because money has become a major motivator of online threats, cyber criminals have been using organized crime structures as a model for structuring criminal groups and attacks.

The organized crime group Carderplanet responsible for attacks recently at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas has started using the same structure as the Italian Mafia, according to experts. And cyber crime costs are becoming pricier and pricier, as evidenced by the billions of dollars it cost the U.S. last year, using IT consulting experts to repair damage and increase security.

Carderplanet has been using even more sophisticated methods of appealing to victims, creating business services that are sometimes mistaken for real IT consulting ads, thus creating confusion. Grasso presented this information at the Defcon conference. The Carderplanet website has been shut down, and the FBI is working alongside law enforcement in Eastern Europe to take the company out of commission.

Unfortunately, Carderplanet is only one of many groups making up an entire confederation of online criminals that is being called the International Carder’s Alliance. They use frequently-traversed websites and IRC channels to help plan online warfare. The Alliance is the heart of current cyber crime, and many other cyber crime groups have grown out of it, including Mazafaka, Shadowcrew and IAACA. Part of the reason for the Mafia resemblance of structures is because actual Mafia gang members are turning to online crime, which gives them anonymous ways to extend their reach.

Grasso notes that the average bank robbery is $3,000 and involves high risk. But an online crime can produce hundreds of thousands of dollars and be harder to trace, even by the most expert IT consulting firms.

Blogged By: Joshua Feinberg