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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Microsoft's hacker takedown shines light on globalization of cybercrime

A recent cybercrime case filed against developers from Kuwait and Algeria points to the global scope of today's persistent digital threats.

Category:   Secure File Transfer

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Cybercrime operates without national borders. In addition to state-sponsored cyberattacks and other forms of digital espionage, many of the massive underground cybercrime syndicates are international both in membership and activity. This has become even more apparent following Microsoft's takedown of a malicious software operation based in Kuwait and Algeria.

Microsoft brings down cybercriminals
According to a blog post by Microsoft lawyer Richard Boscovich, the software giant's Digital Crime Unit filed a civil case on June 19 against Mohamed Benabdellah and Naser Al Mutairi?, as well as a U.S. company posing as No-IP.com for "creating, controlling, and assisting in infecting millions of computers with malicious software." The cybercriminal activity utilized software called Bladabindi and Jenxcus, which can be used to infect victims' computers.

"In the past, we've predominately seen botnets originating in Eastern Europe; however, the authors, owners, and distributors of this malware are Kuwaiti and Algerian nationals," Boscovich wrote. "The social media-savvy cybercriminals have promoted their wares across the Internet, offering step-by-step instructions to completely control millions of unsuspecting victims' computers to conduct illicit crimes—demonstrating that cybercrime is indeed a global epidemic."

Persistent threats, massive costs 
This particular operation is hardly the most ambitious or widespread of the cyberattacks perpetrated around the globe in recent years. These crimes are increasingly common, posing a persistent, concerning threat for companies, consumers, and other parties. According to a recent report by McAfee, the cost of cybercrime to the global economy is as high as $400 billion annually. What's more, cyberattacks have implications for employment, costing as many as 200,000 jobs in the U.S. alone. The report also explained that this phenomenon is most likely going to continue to expand, especially as organizations migrate more of their business functions online and a greater proportion of the world's population is connected through the Internet.

What can enterprises do to mitigate these increasingly sophisticated, ever-present threats? McAfee advised that governments should initiate a "serious, systematic effort to collect and publish data on cybercrime to help countries and companies make better choices about risk and policy." In addition to assisting with and watching for information from these measures, should they materialize, entities can bolster their own networks and reduce vulnerabilities by selecting technology vendors that remain committed to top-notch security.

Furthermore, providing employees with industry-leading secure file sharing and managed file transfer tools reduces the chances that companies will be the next victim in these crimes of global proportions.