Dirty money on the wires: the business models of cyber criminals

Guillaume Lovet Fortinet

Scammers, phishers, bot herders, spammers, online extortioners, identity thieves... The names may seem obscure, but their intent is not: they are all out to steal our money. It is no secret that, today, cyber crime is draining massive amounts of money every year, all around the globe. And while old-school hackers would rent their services to conduct a limited number of high-profile industrial spying operations, today's cyber criminals combine social engineering, viruses, trojans and spyware to target average, everyday users.

There are several questions that we must try and understand in order to fight these cyber criminals: who are the culprits and do they fit any standard profile? What is their business model and how easy is it to set up? Through which channels is the cyber crime money flowing and who is getting this money, eventually? Are the 'real' organized criminals - the so called mob - implicated at certain levels in the model?

This paper will attempt to shed some light on these questions. Answers will be developed, correlated and backed up by concrete data, numbers, and figures. The expected proliferation of increasingly used mobile smart phones will open the door for a broad range of new cyber crime possibilities and business models, which this paper will also examine. The goal is to raise public awareness and industry anticipation of this potentially severe issue.

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