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Intelligence-sharing cyber criminals

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For most people, cybercrime is about an email from some queen in West Africa whose father left a lot of fortune. The queen’s inheritance is locked into some Swiss bank account and can only be unlocked by a suitable man ready to marry the queen.

In the long and winding email, the queen requests you to send credit card details to prove that you are indeed serious. If you are gullible enough to fall prey to the bait, you soon discover that you have been duped.

There is another which is trickier; you get an email that informs you that somebody you know travelled and has been robbed and needs assistance. An account is provided where funds can be deposited to rescue your acquaintance. Panic-stricken, you reply to the email and you almost immediately get a confirmation.

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If you are rich enough, you cable the money and again found out that you got conned.

The trick here is that a cybercriminal hijacks your friends email account (usually a yahoo account), picks email addresses from the address book and sounds the SOS.

In today’s world these would be described as antics of amateurs. The cybercriminals of today create forums on the internet where they share intelligence. One such forum is the defunct Enigma and the Gentleman’s Club.

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If one hacker wants to defraud a very wealthy man in a country, he will announce his intent on hackers’ forum on the internet. Another member of the forum can volunteer to offer to sell a tool that can collect information over the web about the target. Once such information is collected, a more targeted attack can be mounted.

Another hacker goes ahead to device some malicious code that can create a scheme that will look so real and most likely to succeed.

Such intelligence sharing forums like Enigma have been used by governments to buy information. One hacker colloquially called Sumurai in the hacker’s underworld, offered to pay without haggling over prices any huge chunks of stolen information. When such language is used in the cybercriminal dark world, the person is using government’s money to make the purchase.

The Cybercriminal world is more collaborated that ever before. It is no longer business as usual; more sophisticated tools are being used in information gathering of your contacts and emails which in computer technology is called phishing.

A hacker today does not need to be a jack of trades to break into an organization’s internet fences (firewalls), all that is required is a good forum where intelligence can be shared.

Are we safe? Yes, if we up our security game for we have Cyber al Qaedas, ready to launch well calculated attacks.

I have warned you.

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