Q3 2004: The rise of Islamist hacking and criminal
London, UK - 20 October 2004, 12:30 GMT - Islamist hacking groups
and criminal syndicates have caused more damage to global computer systems
in the third quarter of 2004 than in any preceding quarter according to the
latest study published by the mi2g Intelligence Unit, the world leader
in digital risk.
The phenomenon of Islamist hacking for political purposes did not exist in
any significant measure prior to the 9/11 events in 2001, save India-Pakistan
and Israel-Palestine localised cyber skirmishes. International Islamist hacking
accelerated throughout 2002 as did global criminal syndicate activity on the
internet to reach a new crescendo immediately after the start of war with
Iraq in March 2003. The last one year has seen further increases. The targets
have included assets belonging to the US, UK, Australia and other coalition
partners on the one hand and within the domestic environments of Russia, Turkey,
Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Malaysia and Kuwait on the other.
There is mounting evidence that politically motivated hackers from amongst
Islamic countries are collaborating with each other and with criminal syndicates
from Russia, Latin America and China. They are devising and implementing new
strategies for carrying out simultaneous attacks; subtle reconnaissance and
surveillance missions including identity theft; organised crime activities
to raise funds through phishing scams, spam and malware proliferation; as
well as mount globally noticeable yet untraceable distributed denial of service
(DDoS) business interruptions against publicly quoted household name corporations
within the financial services, information technology and consumer goods sectors.
The key indicators highlighted by the study published by the mi2g Intelligence
Unit are as follows:
1. The economic damage from DDoS attacks in 2004 has crossed $34 billion worldwide.
The comparable for 2003 was less than $1bn.
2. The number of phishing scams - elaborate online financial fraud and identity
theft - carried out against customers of major brand names in 2004 has crossed
117. The comparable for 2003 was 54; and in 2002 the phenomenon hardly existed.
The economic damage from phishing scams is estimated to exceed $44 billion
worldwide in 2004. The comparable for 2003 was $14 billion.
3. Spam - unsolicited email messages - volume in 2004 has crossed over 3.3
trillion messages worldwide. The comparable for 2003 was 1.6 trillion messages.
The economic damage from spam in 2003 is estimated to have crossed $119 billion
worldwide. The comparable for 2003 was $58 billion.
4. Major viruses, worms and trojans - malware - in 2004 have caused upwards
of $165 billion in damages worldwide. The comparable for 2003 was $83 billion.
5. The economic damage from all forms of digital risk manifestation - covert
attacks, spam, phishing scams, DDoS, major malware, overt attacks - in 2004
has crossed $411 billion worldwide. The comparable figure for 2003 was $215
"Although the economic damage appears large in absolute terms, when it
is divided by the installed base of online computers worldwide which has reached
one billion machines, the damage number is modest and does not cross a few
hundred dollars per unit," said DK
Matai, Chairman, mi2g. "The collaboration
between radical groups and criminal syndicates is particularly significant
because they both feed of each others' agenda to create short term opportunities
by benefiting from injuring public confidence, creating misfortune for individuals
and corporations as well as accelerating local and global destabilisation
Economic damage is calculated by the mi2g Intelligence Unit on the
basis of helpdesk support costs, overtime payments, contingency outsourcing,
loss of business, bandwidth clogging, productivity erosion, management time
reallocation, cost of recovery and software upgrades. When available, Intellectual
Property Rights (IPR) violations as well as customer and supplier liability
costs have also been included in the estimates.
Full details of the September 2004 report are available as of 1st October
2004 and can be ordered from here.
(To view contents sample please click here).