It’s war! Anti-cyber crime alliance formed to defeat hackers

5 Jul 2011

A new global organisation that joins tech companies with police forces around the world – the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) – has been formed against rising cyber crime in the aftermath of breaches at RSA, Sony and Citibank.

ICSPA brings together businesses, governments and law enforcement officers, and by investing in new training, an international exchange of expertise will create a powerful network to counter global cyber crime.

Member companies include Yodel, McAfee, Trend Micro, Cassidian, Core Security Technologies, Transactis and Shop Direct Group.

ICSPA plans to disrupt cyber criminals’ activities by providing law-enforcement agencies with more resources, tools and expertise in countries that face the greatest challenges, thus helping them to be more successful in their fights.

Cloud-based security software firm Trend Micro, which employs 200 people in Cork, is one of the founding members of the new organisation.

Anthony O’Mara, senior vice-president of Trend Micro EMEA, said: “The fight against cyber crime requires a sophisticated and co-ordinated effort from all those concerned, but it also requires organisations with exceptional expertise to really take the lead.

“Trend Micro is proud to be a founding member of the ICSPA and applauds the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Prime Minister David Cameron and the other organisations involved for their support for this important initiative.”

The impact of cyber crime

Research from Trend Micro indicates that businesses and individuals face a growing threat from cyber crime.

The dangers to enterprise have been amply illustrated this year alone, with intrusions into several major corporations, such as RSA, Sony, Citibank, the European Council and Epsilon, to name but few. These attacks often result in the theft of valuable intellectual property or customer databases.

Stolen personal information and financial details are offered for sale in a wide range of underground online forums. The more popular forums often have many thousands of members and also host advertisements for online shop fronts trading in stolen information. These forums operate on a similar basis as legitimate online auction sites where buyers and sellers give and receive feedback in order to establish “trust” before making a purchase.

Trend Micro’s research demonstrates how cheaply cyber criminals sell the proceeds of their activities – and just how much money they can make out of it:

  • US$800 buys a passport from an EU country
  • US$500 buys a UK driving licence
  • US$80-US$150 buys a credit card “dump” – data that can be written to the chip or magnetic strip
  • 2 cents-15 cents  buys a credit card blank
  • US$180m in 12 months is what one gang made from peddling fake security software, designed to fool the victim into believing their PC is already infected

This latter scam is a particular growth area for cyber criminals. For the victim, it means they unwittingly give away their personal information and credit card details to purchase the bogus software, infect their computer and to make matters worse, pay for it. One such campaign analysed by Trend Micro diverted 300m visits to the malicious landing pages in just one month.

In welcoming the launch of the ICSPA, Cameron said: “Our government has already injected an additional £650m to help improve our national infrastructure and protect against cyber crime, but the very nature of this threat calls for more than a national response; it demands a truly global response and that is what the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance is all about.

“By forging new relationships between businesses, governments and law enforcement officers all over the world, by investing in new training, and by building an international exchange of expertise, the ICSPA is forming a network powerful enough and wide enough to face down cyber crime,” Cameron said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years