WASHINGTON (7/16/14)--International organized crime groups are increasingly turning to the lucrative business of cybercrime, the new head of the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview.
Justice's Leslie Caldwell noted that there are hundreds of millions of dollars to gain illegally from the exploding field of cybercrime, while being a lower-risk proposition. Comparing cybercrime to major international narcotics trafficking organizations, Caldwell said with cybercrime chances for success are high, chances of capture are lower and, if caught and proven guilty, sentences are not as long.
The interview ran July 14, the day before Caldwell was slated to discuss the threat of so-called "botnets" before a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing. Botnets are described as networks of hijacked computers used to steal information, attack other systems or churn out spam.
The article noted that the Justice Department "struck a blow against a major botnet this spring," shutting down a malicious-software infected network that it said had been used to steal at least $100 million. But even that success appears fleeting in the fast-paced world of cybercrime. The article cites research by security firm Sophos Ltd., which says hackers are distributing a variant of that network, known as Gameover Zeus, in what appears to be an effort, Sophos says, of resurrecting the old botnet.
Cybercrime, says Caldwell, is a law-enforcment game-changer--forcing new tactics by prosecutors, too, such as how to use data from cellular phone towers and gain access to encrypted email for instance.
Caldwell testified before the Senate Justice subcommittee on crime and terrorism Tuesday in a hearing titled, "Crime and Terrorism Taking Down Botnets: Public and Private Efforts to Disrupt and Dismantle Cybercriminal Networks." See the resource link for the complete witness list.