Malware attacks have experienced major growth in Latin America, with more than 50,000 in 2009, almost 2mn in 2010 and over 2.5mn so far this year, equivalent to 490% growth, according to a study by Russian antivirus software developer Kaspersky Laboratories.
The main reason behind this trend is that cybercrime has become a highly profitable business, encouraging offenders to infect the largest possible number of people, according to Kaspersky's head of global research and analysis team, Dmitry Bestuzhev.
"What has been motivating all these attacks is money. And it's such a big motivation that there are computer professionals who have started 'working' full time on creating malware," he said.
Attacks used to be straightforward: There was a criminal, a victim and a virus, Bestuzhev added. Now that scenario has changed into a more complex and profitable ecosystem, including six players:
1. Malware developers in charge of programming the malicious code and then selling it to cybercriminals. In Latin America, however, it is common to see them working also as cybercriminals.
2. Cyber criminals, who launch the attacks and usually do not use the data obtained directly, but offer it to resellers. They buy a network botnet or a toolkit and put it to work.
3. Resellers, who sell all kinds of stolen financial information.
4. Mediators, who are the result of a curious phenomenon in Latin America. The emergence of fraudulent resellers who steal from other cybercriminals has called for intermediaries to secure transactions on both sides and verify data.
5. "Mules," who launder the money stolen by cybercriminals to avoid being tracked.
6. Victims who lack a prevention method and surf the web without worrying about the security of the sites they visit.