They make a killing by stealing data and passwords. Who are these dangerous lurkers and what do they get out of it? They are cyber hijackers and till sometime ago, they were doing it for fun and to be known as the best hijacker in town.
Things have changed and now they do it for making a fast buck. They come much younger, smarter and tech savvy now and can outsmart even the smartest crackers of all.
These hijackers have high earnings, and can earn as much as $2 for your cell number, up to $500 for your credit card number and as much as $400 for your bank customer ID and PIN. Your worth has increased with time and if have a corporate identity, you could be worth thousands of dollars. Don’t be too happy about your worth, as the more worthy you are, the more at risk you are.
Falling prey to the cyber mafia is not difficult. There lurkers infest places where there are hundreds of people and hijack people’s computers. Social networking sites that are so popular with everyone are their best bet.
They turn your computer into a BOT (hijacked computer.) Usually a spyware of malware is downloaded onto the computer, which then holds the computer captive and sends all the data to the person who has done this, exposing all your passwords to him. Thinking of all those times you were asked to download these for free?
A study reveals statistics of over 10,000 computers being converted into BOTs in a single day and are linked to huge networks of such computers, which are called BOT networks. Thousands of BOT nets exist all around the world. It is scary to note that the largest such BOT network server was brought to light in Holland, which contains a network of 150,000 BOTs.
Some of us innocent souls, who do not know much about these things, can never can imagine that the computers we love so much and rely on each day of our life, can prove to be so dangerous, if we are not prepared.
This cyber mafia functions almost like its offline counterpart. These cyber criminals collect all the stolen information on credit cards, bank accounts and other sensitive details and dump it in underground (hidden) servers. Then sell it to buyers for huge dollars.
This network is as complicated as the real mafia and their underground dealings are extremely well planned and executed.
Buyers also play safe when buying this information, to avoid getting caught. They use agents or cashiers who help convert all the stolen details into currency, in the form of e-gold or money transfers. They use e-gold because there are no charge-backs and the payments are instantly done. Some cashiers go to the extent of wiring online money transfers with the stolen credit card. They engage the services of a middleman who receives this transfer with the use of a fake identity. This middleman charges a percentage in the cashed out value as a fee. This fee could sometimes go as high up as 50%, depending on how much money has been cashed out.
Emails are also not safe anymore. The dreadful truth is that, an email is almost like a postcard that changes numerous hands before reaching the person it was sent to. During the transit it would have been read by many people and picked up viruses that get installed once they reach their destination.
With the millions of internet users across the globe, cyber threats are increasing with each passing day. As users of the internet, each one of us has to be constantly vigilant of lurkers in this ever evolving threat environment. Protecting ourselves the best we can and following some guidelines is the only way to survive online.