Feeds

Viruses, phishing, and trojans for profit

Malware is big money

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.