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News

McAfee warns of the ease with which data can be extracted and used.

McAfee : 29 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Recent UK bank fraud highlights the need for high levels of alertness regarding the use and distribution of personal information and the ease with which social engineering skills can be used for illegal financial benefit.
Today, the Times ran a news story detailing a £60,000 bank fraud in which thieves managed to use social engineering skills to intercept mail, transfer mortgage funds and obtain debit cards without the victim ever suspecting that anything was amiss. In order to set up such an elaborate fraud, significant personal information needs to have been obtained, most likely through on-line activity.


Greg Day, Security Analyst at McAfee commented:

'Todays news is a further example of the crack down on cyber criminal activity but the few cases that have been reported show that flagging online criminal activity is one thing, but the policing and prosecution processes are much more difficult.

Cyber criminals undertake a number of methods in order to reduce the chance of being tracked and undeniably linked to criminal activity. Often the criminals will carry out their work from Internet cafés, so unless there is absolute proof of who was using the system at the exact time the criminal activity was carried out then it becomes very hard to convict the criminal.

A technique used by cyber criminals in incidents such as this is to create a spoof personality. Often the personal checks when registering for payment systems such as PayPal are not very in-depth. This allows people to set up false accounts under an alias name, alternative address and (potentially) an illegal credit or debit card. If all of these were used this would significantly reduce any ties between the criminal and the crime.

The problem lies in that a user can almost avoid having any form of genuine online identification. Where as in the real world a person may have a drivers license, passport, national insurance number and finger prints, in the cyber world these checks do not exist to the same extent.

Other methods online-fraudsters commonly use is to avoid large 'hits'. By taking little and often some systems may allow these transactions to procees undetected or pinpointed as abnormal activity.

By using these methods and carrying out attacks from public and regularly used systems, cyber criminals make it very difficult to be tracked and accredited with specific criminal acts.

However, recent cases both in the US and the UK show that the policing of online criminal activity is ever-improving which is encouraging from both a consumer and an enterprise perspective.'

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