A senior official at Microsoft said today that the global financial crisis threatens to spark a rise in cyber crimes, the result of computer experts losing their jobs and looking for ways to earn a living — legal or otherwise.
Microsoft’s chief security advisor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Roger Halbheer, said, “Today these (cyber) attacks are not about vandalism any more, today it’s about cash. Cyber crime has gone from cool to cash. And this will definitely grow in the future,” he told AFP on the sidelines of an international conference on terrorism and cyber security. [It’s] one of the things that scares me about the economic downturn because I’m expecting cyber crime will grow. At the moment we are still at the cool side. But I’m expecting it to move to the cash side.”
Halbheer cites the recent Conficker worm as one such example. Conficker has proven to be an extremely prolific, efficiently written, and pervasive worm, but to date has not caused significant harm. He said, “What the goal of Conficker is is still unclear.”
Halbheer is calling for additional collaboration between the private and public sectors to combat this form of cyber crime. He said, “A lot of critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector – the banks, telecom companies, energy companies. The government however has enforcement power as well as the intelligence power. We need to reach a state where we trust each other and exchange information.”
He’s asking for an environment where a bank could come to the government and say “we’ve been hacked into, but we don’t want to make it public”, suggesting that the biggest stumbling block to this ideology is in countries where there is no stable government.