Cisco: Cyber Crime Not as Profitable Anymore

Cyber crime is not the cash cow it once was, according to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) whose recent research examined the cyber underground.

Speaking yesterday at a press event at in San Bruno, Calif., security researcher Pat Peterson said last year saw a turning point in the fight against mass scams and criminal profits from these illicit activities are expected to continue dropping, according to Computerworld.

Cisco estimates that mass attackers will rake in about $300 million in profits this year — a significant difference from the $1 billion or so Cisco thinks the criminals made each year in 2009 and 2010.

Peterson attributed the decrease in profit to two factors:  Beefed-up law enforcement efforts and the disruption of botnets such as Conficker and Rustock.

Spam has declined accordingly, from about 300 billion messages daily a year ago to nearly 40 billion per day over the past few months. This phenomenon is “something that we don’t see very often,” Peterson said.

But as spam is decreasing, Peterson said he believes targeted attacks such as spear phishing are rising. Targeted attacks has tripled over the past year and they are now costing organizations about $1.3 billion each year, Cisco said.

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