Data theft boom emboldens criminals

According to a new report, the trade in stolen data across the internet has increased dramatically over the last three years. With an estimated 230 per cent jump between 2007 and 2009, there are clearly a growing number of criminals looking to make millions from buying and selling personal information.

Lucid Intelligence, which deals in fraud relating to databases, published its annual report which showed that the complexity and ingenuity of the criminals’ methods were intensifying. Although the statistics did mark a decline in the number of credit cards being used fraudulently online, other more worrying trends are emerging.

Lucid’s CEO Colin Holder said that by harvesting personal data directly, or by purchasing it from a digital fence, criminals were able to create identities which they could then use to apply for loans, sign up for credit cards and create bank accounts.

Mr Holder said that criminals were well aware that although the process of obtaining the data and forging the phony identities could be long, the eventual payoff was significant enough to encourage the investment of time and money in the initial phases.

Lucid believes that the next biggest threat to face consumers and businesses will come in the form of transactions which do not actually require a card for authentication. It anticipates that the battle with cybercrime will continue into the foreseeable future.

Over 4000 websites which deliberately release or sell private data are identified in the report and over 3000 bank accounts have also been discovered which were created by criminals in order to launder money from crimes of all types.

Mr Holder said that the next year would be taxing for credit agencies and consumers if the correct action was not taken to counter the threat of card fraud online. He also said that phishing sites would remain a persistent problem and said that criminals were now looking to smaller financial institutions to launder their funds because of the relatively easy target they present compared with the more established firms.

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