Federal Prosecutor: Cybercrime Is Funding Organized Crime - InformationWeek

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Federal Prosecutor: Cybercrime Is Funding Organized Crime

Cybercrime has been so profitable for organized crime that the mob is using it to fund its other underground exploits. And U.S. law enforcement is reaching around the world to reel it in.

For months now, the feds have said organized crime was moving into the realm of cybercrime, using hackers to run scams and break into systems.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Erez Liebermann, chief of the computer hacking and intellectual property section in New Jersey's U.S. Attorney's Office, says cybercrime has been so profitable for organized crime that they're now using it to fund the rest of their underground operations.

"In terms of the risks and rewards, there's a higher chance of getting more, financially, using the world of computer crime. Organized crime is realizing this," he said. "We have suspicions of organized crime being behind some cybercrime that we're investigating here. The attorney general has issued reports about organized crime and terrorist links using computer crime, hacking and intellectual property crimes as a way of raising revenue. It's being used to fund organized crime."

Analysts at Websense, a Web security company, reported late last year that the mob was expected to band together more closely with hackers in 2007 to form a more organized cybercrime community.

The beefed-up online crime cooperative has begun buying, selling, and trading ready-made cyberattack toolkits and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities. Dan Hubbard, VP of security research at Websense, noted that organized criminals have realized that the Internet has been an untapped resource for earning them profit. Tools and exploits to steal personal, business, and financial information are the hottest commodities for cybercriminals.

Liebermann said federal law enforcement is in a good position to tackle this burgeoning crime.

"The laws that we have ... target a lot of this activity," said Liebermann. "I do not feel handcuffed, no. There is the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act out there, and if it passes, it would enhance penalties and add computer crime to the list of predicate crimes that would give rise to a RICO [Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] charge."

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