Feeds

Viruses, phishing, and trojans for profit

Malware is big money

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The lighter side of profit making

One cannot deny the allure of big profit, low risk cyber crime. It's a shame that hackers aren't paid more heartily for legitimate work like developing new applications, securing networks, building new web businesses, and so on. I want to believe that few people go out intending to be criminals, but the disparity between legitimate pay for legitimate work and the criminal profit is sometimes too great.

It's scary, in fact, how much cyber crime has grown in recent years – even if the hard numbers and the Gartner polls are lagging behind the reality, I am not going out on a limb here. The FBI estimates cyber crime at somewhere around $8bn in the past two years against US businesses. The world number is surely larger.

Would there be less crime if developers and hackers were paid more? If the internet bubble hadn't burst? I'm not sure. But it's worth some thought.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are the people with great ideas who build something new and get paid outrageously well for their work. The folks at YouTube may have made off like bandits (accompanying video), but they are an inspiration for everyone in the internet age. A small company of 65 people, which never turned a profit, was purchased for $1.65bn dollars in Google stock. That's the equivalent of 50 modest half-million dollar homes for every single employee. That's about about 1,159 Mini Cooper S-Type cars stacked end-to-end, for every single one of those hard working 65 employees. That's about... well, you get the idea.

Of course, I don't imagine the secretary of YouTube made off with $25.4m, because not everyone is equal...and not everyone's brain can be purchased for the same price. At $1.65bn dollars for a 65 employee company, do you think Google really liked YouTube's ideas?

We can't all hope to win the internet lottery like the folks at YouTube did, but I hope it's a sign of things to come: new investment in internet technologies by big companies. Maybe if there's a little more incentive for a developer to be creative and create something new, instead of working on that new trojan-virus-spam-phishing scam in his spare time, some of the misguided virus folk might be inspired by some legitimate grandeur and cash, and not be headed to the dark side after all. Maybe? Maybe not? Well, one can only hope.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

Kelly Martin has been working with networks and security since 1986, and he's editor of SecurityFocus, Symantec's online magazine.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.