Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Meet A-Z: The Computer Hacker Behind a Cyber Crime Wave

Byron Acohido writes on USA Today:

He goes by the nickname A-Z and is one of Russia's bright young tech stars. He's a crack programmer, successful entrepreneur and creator of sophisticated software tools that help his customers make millions.

Trouble is, A-Z's masterstroke is a computer program called ZeuS that helps cybergangs steal people's identity data and pull off Web scams on a vast scale. Last fall, German criminals used ZeuS to pull off an Ocean's Eleven-like caper, hijacking $6 million from banks in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy, says SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based company that monitors Internet crime and supplies security systems for 2,100 companies and government agencies.

A few years ago, skilled hackers such as A-Z concentrated most of their efforts on setting loose globe-spanning Internet viruses, mainly for bragging rights. But cybercrime is now a fast-expanding, global industry, security researchers and law enforcement officials say. Because it most often goes undetected and unreported, cybercrime is difficult to measure. A benchmark widely cited by the tech-security community is that its value tops $100 billion a year, outpacing global drug trafficking.

More here.


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