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Emails can yield everything from passport scans to addresses – it’s a tool kit for identity fraud.
These account details might be used straight away or sold on, to be used at a later date with your money siphoned off and transferred through the accounts of criminals known as ‘money mules’, who are paid to move money from place to place.
Like most victims of cyber crime, Ritu Taura, a housewife and mother-of-two from Hertfordshire, is still not sure how her computer became infected.
What she does know is that it was soon out of her control, emailing all her contacts.
Cyber crime is no longer for a hacker elite.‘We are at a tipping point for the power and reach of organised digital crime,’ according to a report by British Aerospace’s cyber defence wing, Detica, which has begun to offer its expertise in bulletproof defences against hackers to ordinary companies.
The trouble is that a ready solution is not forthcoming.
Biometric data – iris scans and fingerprints – was thought to be a possible answer, but few will be willing to invest in a home fingerprint scanner, and there’s no guarantee that these personal identifiers will be any harder to steal.
Mexican drug gangs have begun to diversify into cyber crime, kidnapping IT professionals and forcing them to hack into people’s bank accounts, or directly into banks.
Either way, the result is the same – an infection that takes over your PC, often downloading new software ‘to order’.