Most of today’s Internet criminals are operating from Russia, China and Southern America. Over the next five years, there will be a significant increase in attacks from Central America, India, China and Africa, according to a prediction from security specialists. The researchers at F-Secure’s Security Labs have mapped the shifts in Internet crime trends since 1986.
1. The Past (1986-2003):
- Old-school virus writers operating from areas in Europe, United States, Australia and India.
- Era characterised by opportunistic “hobbyists’ learning their craft.
2. Recent history (2003-2007):
- Hobbyism replaced by professional, targeted attacks.
- Malware creation hotspots growing in the former Soviet countries (such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia). Other major areas of criminal activity are Brazil and China, which have large numbers of individuals with sophisticated computing skills but without the job opportunities to make a living for themselves in the IT sector. Online crime often presents a more lucrative path to raising living standards for people like these.
3. The Future (2008 onwards):
- New e-criminal groups likely to appear in Mexico and Africa.
- Internet crime becoming even more sophisticated with targeted attacks and exploits. This is a result of the alignment between broadband penetration and socio-economic factors such as economic development and lack of IT employment opportunities.
- Internet usage is growing fastest in Asia, followed by Africa. IT job growth will be lacking behind, creating a breeding ground for online criminals.
In many countries there will be a delay before the legal system catches up with developments in the IT sector. Computer criminals may also be able to escape the law more easily in countries which are undergoing serious political and security problems.