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Will Laid-Off Techies Boost Web Crime?

A mid-year cyber security reports suggests that there may be yet another dark side to the economic downturn.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ever-weakening job market could well lead to an increase in online crime as laid-off workers, especially those with computer skills, turn to scams to support themselves, Cisco Systems Inc said in a mid-year security report to be released on Tuesday.

Disgruntled employees may target their former employers, and Cisco warned that insiders "can be especially damaging for an organization because insiders know security weaknesses."

A former information technology analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was arrested in April along with his brother on suspicions of taking out loans using false identities. FBI investigators found a flash drive attached to the bank employee's computer with applications for $73,000 in loans in the names of stolen identities, the report said.

Cisco warned companies which use short-term IT consultants or who contract out the tasks to "be particularly vigilant about the level and term of their access to sensitive data."

The report included snippets of a conversation with a botmaster, or someone who remotely takes over computers without users' knowledge and often sells the resulting access to spammers.

The hacker declined to say how much he earned but said "'a guy I know'" can earn $5-10K weekly, by phising (sic) bank accounts." Phishing is the practice of convincing a victim to give up valuable information -- like a password to a bank account. The account can then be emptied.

Copyright 2009 Reuters. Click for restrictions.






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