“When we began looking into the specific effects cyber-criminals had on the economy during times of duress we found a startling connection: the criminal economy is closely interrelated with the global economy,” says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda Security`s sub-Saharan operations.
The new strategy appears to be developed in response to banking industry consolidation brought on by the multi-million-dollar bank bailout packages introduced by several governments around the world. As a result of this consolidation, fewer banking entities will exist in the long term and the perception of instability in the financial community makes for a less attractive target.
“Cyber-criminals have to increase their activity to reach more users with campaigns designed to put money directly into their pockets, especially during times of economic instability. For example, we have seen a surge in the number of fake antivirus software scams that trick unsuspecting consumers into making an online transaction, instead of criminals relying heavily on phishing the credentials for banks,” explains Matthews.
The following are highlights of Panda`s key findings:
- On average, the US stock market experienced between a 3 to 7 percent decline from Sept. 1st to Oct. 9th. However, activity on the “malware markets” was the opposite: it grew substantially as the stock markets declined.
- From Sept. 5th to 16th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, S&P 500 and Composite Index all dropped from the plus 0.0 percent range to approximately negative 3.0 percent or lower. In the same period the Spanish IBEX 35 index and the London FTSE 100 also suffered major losses. The same timeframe witnessed a significant surge in daily malware threats; for example from Sept. 8th to Sept 10th the volume of daily threats grew from 10,150 to well over 24,000.
- From Sept. 14th to 16th, stock markets dropped from -0.5 to -5.5 percent while daily threats grew 50 percent each day, from 8,276 on the 14th to over 31,404 on the 16th.