The Decade's Most Devious Cybercrimes

McAfee reports lists top exploits of the past 10 years.

ByABC News
January 24, 2011, 5:34 PM

Jan. 25, 2011— -- Computer security efforts may be getting stronger, but cyber criminals are still getting smarter.

According to the Internet security company McAfee, despite a global recession and ramped-up security efforts worldwide, cybercrime has grown by double digits every year for the last ten years.

In "A Good Decade for Cybercrime," a report released today, McAfee shares the unsettling news that while the rest of us have enjoyed a decade of booming Internet technology, cybercriminals have thrived by exploiting it.

In the U.S. alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center says that cybercrime losses to consumers doubled from 2008 to 2009, reaching $560 million, while consumer complaints rose by more than 22 percent.

But David Marcus, McAfee's director of security research and communications, said that cybercriminals didn't always know that they had such a lucrative opportunity on their hands.

"When you look back to the early, early 2000s, you saw a lot of things that were either done for the sake of irritating someone or done in a haphazard sense. There was really no sense of data being valuable," he said. "Then you jump ahead a year or two and it's like a light bulb went off. ...[Cybercrimals thought] There's data, I can make money from that data."

At the beginning of the decade, he said, computer crime was measured in terms of how much downtime the IT department suffered and the loss in productivity. But the stakes changed as computer use ballooned and consumers became more interested in e-banking and online shopping.

"It's the financial transactions that really started changing things," he said. "E-commerce exploding, people buying and selling goods online and the transferring of things online."