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Protect against the growing cybercrime black market

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Global IT vendor, Panda Security, has launched a campaign against the ever-growing world of cybercrime. The campaign aims to educate both businesses and home users about the dangers of cybercrime, and the ways in which becoming a victim of its growth may be avoided.

“Cybercrime preys on unsuspecting users," says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “That’s why these campaigns are so important – they provide very necessary and useful information that may help many individuals and businesses avoid becoming victims.”
The year 2003 saw the creation of the first banker Trojan. Since then, Trojans have become one of the most common types of malware, accounting for 71% of all threats, because they are the best tool for hackers and organisations involved in identity and detail theft.
Every day, increasingly sophisticated variants emerge, designed to evade the security measures put in place by banks, online stores, pay platforms and so on. The reason for this rapid growth is clearly profit based.
Online mafias are highly organised and strategic with regards to their operations and deployment. Not only do they seem like real companies, they operate across the globe, throwing their nets wide.
The cybercrime black market works in a two step process. Step one involves the creation of malware and it distribution to potential victims. The heads of the criminal organisations hire hackers and programmers to create malware like Trojans, bots and spam.
This malware is then usually spread through email and social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter. Once a victim has been caught in the trap, their confidential information is stolen and then stored for sale on a server.
In step two, the confidential data is sold on underground sites. The black market offers confidential personal data from as little as $2, but it can reach prices exceeding $700. Often, money is stolen directly from victims’ bank accounts. In this case, money mules are used to forward the stolen funds in exchange for commission.
Sometimes these mules do not know that they are moving funds illegally until they are caught and used as scapegoats in the event of arrests being made.
Finally, the stolen funds are transferred into the hands of the gang leaders through services like Western Union.
While the spread of cybercrime is increasing, there are a few precautions one can take to stave off becoming a victim.
Precautions such as memorising passwords, instead of saving them on the PC, can minimise risk. Users are also advised to never give away personal information telephonically or on the Internet if the company or website is unknown.
Closing all browser sessions and working with just one at a time can also decrease the chances of being lured into a fake website.
Lastly, if users receive any suspicious messages from the bank, an online store or a payment platform, contact the customer relations department from the company it was supposedly sent from.
If this suspicious activity persists, or if users notice any unusual account transactions, do not hesitate to inform the bank.
“Cybercrime is a scary reality, but those who take the time to inform themselves and then take the necessary precautions advised on the mini-site should remain safe,” concludes Matthews.