While governments all over the globe are forced to take on certain measures aimed at preventing the further decline of today's growth rates, hackers and cyber crooks are using the implementation of these measures to cash in.
With shopping, banking transactions, and credit card transactions taking place on the web, password theft has increased by close to 400% from 2007 through 2008. This figure has relentlessly risen for the year 2009.
Password stealing is actually done through malware variants posted all over websites. These variants are out to collect bank account credentials of potential victims who shop or conduct credit card and bank transactions online. These bank account credentials include account numbers as well as authentication information, and when malware variants successfully collect such figures from unknowing victims, hackers and cyber crooks then sell these in the Underground Economy.
Credit card numbers are also selling like hot potatoes in the Underground Economy. Most cyber crooks and hackers have developed sophisticated malware variants that focus on collecting what are known as CVV2 numbers. These CVV2 numbers are actually the last three digits that you would find at the back of your credit card, positioned right after your credit card number. Online credit transactions require credit cardholders to input their CVV2 numbers to authenticate the identity of the credit cardholder himself and thereby authorize the credit transaction to take place. These CVV2 numbers account for 16% of the total sale of goods in the Underground Economy, which is alarming because the number of sites that have resorted to this form of authentication is currently rising as well. credit cards bearing these CVV2 numbers are sold in bulk and sold packages come in groups of 5 to 500, with prices ranging from $0.50 to $12.
Another product commonly advertised is the credit card itself. Though credit cards are not really as in-demand as credit card numbers or bank account credentials, the cards still hacked up 13% of the total underground sales. Authorities perceive that this figured lower because it is more difficult to exploit credit cards, with their time-sensitive nature, as well as the security measures undertaken by credit card merchants. The prices of credit cards range between $0.10 up to $25, depending on how time-sensitive the card is.
While authorities have been trying to arrest these hackers and cyber crooks for credit card fraud and identity theft, there are just too many of these criminal enterprises operating on a global scale. With more sophisticated infrastructures being built, locating the operations and shutting these operations down have become increasingly difficult.