Experts are saying that while cyber attacks have, in the past, been due to individuals looking to merely call attention to themselves, more and more online deceptions are now rooted in organised crime.
Presenting findings on the phenomenon to a group of IT professionals in Ireland, officials from Symantec explained that 90 per cent of attacks made online have been organised - and that now more than ever, the perpetrators seek out unwitting users' money.
"Notoriety and bragging rights used to be behind the majority of activity," said Threatscape's Dermot Williams. "Now it’s cold hard cash - pure and simple."
Statistics show that 80 per cent of attacks target confidential data - often credit card details, which criminals then shop around on the black market. The experts explained that personal details could be worth anything from $0.33 to $100 in such markets, when sold alongside bank account details and attack toolkits.
And criminals have shown themselves to be crafty, Williams said.
"The ingenuity and deviousness of these guys can be astonishing - ranging from the myriad of bogus ‘donation websites’ that cropped up within hours of the Haitian earthquake to the way gangs trade details of new ways to compromise computer systems almost as a form of currency in the cyber underworld," he said.
Experts recommend that in light of these threats, businesses must constantly self-evaluate their security tactics.
"The growth in well organised and targeted computer attacks for financial reward is a phenomenon that can affect companies regardless of size, or of location," said Symantec's Lorcan Kavanagh.
"The very nature of how individuals and organisations make use of IT continues to evolve and it is important that they continually assess their systems to make sure they are well secured."
Written by Jason Morton