Home Articles The 6 greatest cybercrime scams and exploits of the last decade

The 6 greatest cybercrime scams and exploits of the last decade [How many caught you out?]


In its most recent report, McAfee takes a look at the evolution of cybercrime in the last ten years, lists the greatest scams and exploits and predicts the future.

According to McAfee, in its latest report “A Good Decade for Cybercrime”, the rise of cybercrime is on par with the rise of the internet over the last ten years. As the internet grew, from 361 million users in 2000 to almost two billion in 2010, so did cybercrime.

“Ten years ago, cybercrime was a completely different business,” says Michael Sentonas, McAfee CTO for APAC, in the report.

“Over the last decade, cybercriminals and their tactics have grown in complexity and sophistication. Attacks have become more targeted and users more vulnerable as more sensitive and personal information is stored on the internet.”

Top 3 Internet Exploits

So, what were the top scams and exploits of the last decade?

Conficker’s Stealthy Destruction

This worm took cybercrime to a whole new level in 2007 as it allowed hackers to take control of the infected computers and to retrieve sensible information. For that, it scores third place in McAfee’s index, causing $9.1 billion in estimated damage.

‘I Love You’ Virus

In second place comes the “I love you” worm, which arrived by mail and invited users to read a love letter written especially for them. Instead of love notes, users downloaded a virus. Damages caused have been estimated to exceed $15 billion.

MyDoom’s mass infection

In first place comes the MyDoom’s mass infection. Damage caused by this worm is estimated to have exceeded $38 billion. Designed to send spam mails through infected computers, its first attack took place in 2004. It sent so much spam from computers worldwide that it slowed down the internet by 10%.

Top 3 Cybercrime Scams

Cybercriminals also attracted an infamous reputation in the last decade, namely for these three scams.

Phoney websites

In third place comes phoney websites. These scams lead the user to replica sites where they are expected to introduce sensible information. Cybercriminals can use this information in many ways, from identity theft to bank fraud. These are often related to phishing scams.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams come in second place. These scams try to induce the user to share personal information by pretending to be a legitimate organisation, a friend over Facebook and even through instant messaging. In the end of 2009, more than 49,000 phishing sites were detected.

Fake antivirus software

First place honours go to what is often referred to as the ‘Scareware’ scam, whereby cybercriminals try to sell fake antivirus software by flashing warning signs of infection on an internet user’s computer screen leading users to believe that the computer is infected. Then, they urge the user to buy an antivirus, providing the cybercriminals with money and credit card information.

The future of cybercrime

Looking at the future, McAfee Labs predicts that the rise of social networking scams, like fake friend requests over Facebook and fake links over Twitter’s hot topics, are likely to become burdensome and sometimes costly risks for internet users.

McAfee also believes that mobile phones and apps will become hot areas for cybercriminal activity, as cybercriminals attempt to exploit such devices to access users’ personal information.

So, how many of these scams caught you out in the last decade? And what devious directions do you think cybercrime will take in the next?