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Cybercrime: A Recession-Proof Growth Industry


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Even in a struggling economy there are some businesses that continue to thrive. In an era of cutbacks and layoffs, one industry has continued to skyrocket--with double digit growth year over year--cybercrime. The bar for entry is low, the overhead is minimal, and the compensation can be phenomenal. Put away your résumé, though--you don't want this job.

Cybercrime has been a model of business success for the past decade. It went through some early growing pains where bravado and notoriety were higher priorities than profit, but now it is a finely tuned machine of commerce. Granted, you'll still get spam and phishing attacks with poor grammar, written in bad English, but many attacks today are polished and professional.

"Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing and lucrative industries of our time," said Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs. "From the ‘I Love You Worm' of 2000, to today's ever-evolving threats on social media sites, we've watched these cybercriminals and their tactics grow in sophistication. The days of destruction purely for bragging rights are over--now it's all about making money and not getting caught."

A retrospective report from McAfee examines the rise of malware and cyber attacks. A Good Decade for Cybercrime looks back at the malware exploits and cyber scams that illustrate the evolution of cybercrime and have shaped computer security in the Internet era.

Viruses and worms that spread rapidly, cripple PCs, bring the Internet to a standstill, and make headlines are no longer the goal. Cybercrime is much more sophisticated now. The goal is to fly under the radar--compromise as many PCs, steal as many identities, take as much money as possible before being detected and without getting caught.

McAfee notes in its press release that the number of Internet users has increased 500 percent since 2000--nearing two billion potential cyber victims. The rise of mobile computing on smartphones and tablets, and the culture of connecting on social networks like Facebook and Twitter just give cybercriminals that many more targets, and make it that much easier to part them from their hard-earned money.

It may seem like a great gig at face value. When this job falls through, though, you don't just miss a car payment and start collecting unemployment. I don't recommend getting into this career field unless you don't mind missing your son's first steps, or high school graduation, or wedding...and maybe his son's first steps depending on your sentence.

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