Cybercriminals have widened the scope of their activities, moving on from stealing just personal data to capturing trade secrets and other corporate intellectual capital which they can easily peddle on the underground market, according to a new report from McAfee and the Science Applications International Corporate (SAIC).
In their new study, "Underground Economies: Intellectual Capital and Sensitive Corporate Data Now the Latest Cybercrime Currency", McAfee and SAIC say theft of trade secrets, marketing plans, R&D data, and even source code is on the rise, particularly as such information is often unprotected.
Based on a global survey of IT professionals, the report uncovered a number of important findings.
Atleast 25% of the companies surveyed said a data breach, or the threat of one, has put a halt on plans for a merger or new product launch. Interestingly, among those that actually suffered a data breach, only half have taken the necessary precautions to prevent recurrence.
Among those companies hit by cyber-attacks, only about 30% reported all such breaches, while 60% picked and chose which ones they reported. Not surprisingly, in line with this trend, many organizations specifically look to store their data in countries with lax laws about over reporting data breaches to customers.
The report also said that the recent economic downturn has prodded many companies to look for cheaper ways of processing and storing their information abroad despite the attached risks.