McAfee, CSIS Study Finds Ease of Cybercrime Growing as Actors Leverage Black Markets, Digital Currencies
- New report from McAfee, CSIS finds theft of intellectual property accounts for at least 25% of cost of cybercrime and threatens national security when it involves military technology.
- Ransomware is the fastest growing cybercrime tool, with more than 6,000 online criminal marketplaces and ransomware-as-a-service gaining in popularity.
- Cybercrime-as-a-service has become more sophisticated, with flourishing markets offering a broad diversity of tools and services such as exploit kits, custom malware and botnet rentals.
- The anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as Tor and Bitcoin protects actors from easy identification.
- Greater standardization of threat data and better coordination of cybersecurity requirements would improve security, particularly in key sectors like finance.
McAfee, in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), has released “Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down,” a global report that focuses on the significant impact that cybercrime has on economies worldwide. The report concludes that cybercrime costs businesses close to $600 billion, or 0.8 percent of global GDP, which is up from a 2014 study that put global losses at about $445 billion.
The report attributes the growth over three years to cybercriminals quickly adopting new technologies, the ease of engaging in cybercrime – including an expanding number of cybercrime centers – and the growing financial sophistication of top-tier cybercriminals.
“The digital world has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, including risk and crime, so that crime is more efficient, less risky, more profitable and has never been easier to execute,” said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee. “Consider the use of ransomware, where criminals can outsource much of their work to skilled contractors. Ransomware-as-a-service cloud providers efficiently scale attacks to target millions of systems, and attacks are automated to require minimal human involvement. Add to these factors cryptocurrencies that ease rapid monetization, while minimizing the risk of arrest, and you must sadly conclude that the $600 billion cybercrime figure reflects the extent to which our technological accomplishments have transformed the criminal economy as dramatically as they have every other portion of our economy.”
Banks remain the favorite target of cybercriminals, and nation states are the most dangerous source of cybercrime, the report finds. Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage.
“Our research bore out the fact that Russia is the leader in cybercrime, reflecting the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for western law enforcement, said James Lewis, senior vice president at CSIS. “North Korea is second in line, as the nation uses cryptocurrency theft to help fund its regime, and we’re now seeing an expanding number of cybercrime centers, including not only North Korea but also Brazil, India and Vietnam.”
The report measures cybercrime in North America, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. Not surprisingly, cybercrime losses are greater in richer countries. However, the countries with the greatest losses (as a percentage of national income) are mid-tier nations that are digitized but not yet fully capable in cybersecurity.
The report did not attempt to measure the cost of all malicious activity on the internet, focusing instead on criminals gaining illicit access to a victim’s computer or network. The elements of cybercrime the authors identify include:
- The loss of IP and business-confidential information
- Online fraud and financial crimes, often the result of stolen personally identifiable information
- Financial manipulation directed toward publicly-traded companies
- Opportunity costs, including disruption in production or services and reduced trust in online activities
- The cost of securing networks, purchasing cyber insurance and paying for recovery from cyber-attacks
- Reputational damage and liability risk for the affected company and its brand
To help scope the cost of malicious cyber-activity, the authors looked at other types of crime for which there are estimates, including maritime piracy, pilferage and transnational crime. They note that data on cybercrime remains poor because of underreporting and a laxness in most governments around the world to collect data on cybercrime.
The report also includes some recommendations on how to deal with cybercrime, including:
- Uniform implementation of basic security measures and investment in defensive technologies
- Increased cooperation among international law enforcement agencies
- Improved collection of data by national authorities
- Greater standardization and coordination of cybersecurity requirements
- Progress on the Budapest Convention, a formal treaty on cybercrime
- International pressure on state sanctuaries for cybercrime
Amazon’s first cashierless store arrives in Britain in sign of global expansion
By Jeffrey Dastin
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc will open its first-ever physical store outside the United States on Thursday.
The world’s largest online retailer said the cashierless store, dubbed “Amazon Fresh,” is located in Britain, in the London Borough of Ealing. It will carry a private UK food brand it’s calling “by Amazon” and will let consumers skip the checkout line when they shop.
The opening is a sign of the Seattle-based company’s ambition to sell food globally and its belief that physical stores are a key way to capture consumers’ high spend on groceries, a category it has yet to dominate.
It so far has worked toward that goal in the United States by acquiring the Whole Foods Market chain in 2017 and testing shoppers’ interests with an array of other formats: about two dozen cashierless convenience stores called Amazon Go, two Seattle-area Amazon Go Grocery stores that are about four times the size, and 10 Amazon Fresh supermarkets in California and Illinois.
As in the Go stores, customers will scan a smartphone app to open the UK store’s entry gates. Ceiling cameras and shelf weight censors determine what shoppers add to their carts or put back, and their on-file credit cards are billed after they exit.
The location, much smaller than a supermarket, will sell prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices, as well as offer a counter for picking up and returning online orders.
(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; editing by Richard Pullin)
Global semiconductor shortage spurs run on vintage chipmaking tools
By Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin
(Reuters) – Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor makes chips for automakers and is booked beyond capacity. But expanding production lines to help solve a chip shortage that is shutting down car factories around the world is not feasible – in part due to the scarcity of older-style chipmaking machinery.
Chip factories like Polar use these tools to make chips on 200-millimeter silicon wafers, which were state-of-the-art two decades ago. Now, advanced chips are made using much larger wafers, but there is still a lot of demand for simpler, older chips.
The demand has been supercharged by a combination of the COVID-19-driven boom in computer gear and unexpected strength in auto sales that resulted in shortages. General Motors Co on Wednesday extended production cuts at three North American plants and added a fourth to the list of factories hit, and Fiat Chrysler owner Stellantis warned the pain could linger far into the year. Shortages forced Ford Motor Co to slash shifts for production of its F-150 pickup truck, a longtime profit driver.
Automakers use a range of chips in cars. Some, such as those in infotainment systems, are made in the same cutting-edge chip factories that make smartphone chips. But other chips in braking and engine systems are made using older, proven technologies that meet automakers’ durability and reliability requirements.
But the machines to make those older chips can take six to nine months to find, said Surya Iyer, vice president of operations and quality at Polar.
“There’s no way I can expand capacity beyond just stretching my limits,” Iyer said. “A real capacity increase would take nine to 12 months, minimum.”
Resellers of chipmaking gear saying they cannot find used equipment, leading some buyers to stalk old factories in the United States, Japan and Europe, waiting for them to close in hopes of snapping up the gear inside.
“Demand is hot for used equipment, but we don’t have enough of them to cope with demand,” said Bruce Kim, chief executive of South Korea’s SurplusGLOBAL, one of the largest dealers of used chipmaking gear.
He said used equipment prices have gone up by as much as 20% over the past six months, while the number of refurbished 200mm tools fell to 1,000, down from between 7,000 to 8,000 a decade ago.
Ohio-based Rite Track, in normal times, buys up old chipmaking equipment, upgrades it and sells it to chip factories. But Chief Executive Tim Hayden said the recent squeeze has spurred the company to spend more time sending technicians out to upgrade tools that are already installed on factory floors in order to squeeze more chips out of them.
“You just can’t go out on the open market and buy a used 200-millimeter tool – they’re just not readily available,” Hayden said. “So people are getting a little bit more creative.”
NEW OFFERS FOR OLD TOOLS
Demand for old tools is so robust that buyers are looking at every kind of factory. Spin Memory in Fremont, California, is designing a new kind of memory chip and maintains a small “pilot production line,” mostly to provide samples to potential customers, said Chief Executive Tom Sparkman. Even though Spin Memory’s tools use 20-year-old technology, Sparkman gets offers to buy them almost every day.
“We haven’t taken the plunge to get rid of it yet, but some days it’s tempting,” he said.
Toolmakers such as Applied Materials Inc and Lam Research Corp, meanwhile, are building booming businesses by refurbishing or recreating some of their greatest hits from the 1990s and earlier.
“It’s really exploding,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group at Applied Materials, the world’s biggest chip-equipment vendor.
David Haynes, a managing director at Lam Research, said demand for 200-millimeter tools was once mostly from China as it worked to build up its domestic chipmaking industry. Now, he said, customers from around the world are looking to buy or upgrade older tools.
Still, investment in older technology lags relative to the spending on more advanced production lines, or “nodes” as they are known in the industry.
“Most of the capital expenditure has been going into advanced nodes,” said Tyson Tuttle, chief executive of Silicon Laboratories Inc, which designs automotive chips to be made on older technology. Chipmakers “have always relied on the fact that the digital guys move out of the older nodes, and that frees up capacity for all the support chips. The problem is, the digital guys aren’t moving out as fast. The mainstream nodes are all just jammed.”
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Matthew Lewis)
Boeing looking for new $4 billion revolving credit facility – source
(Reuters) – Boeing Co has approached a group of banks for a new $4 billion revolving credit facility, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the planemaker battles a prolonged slowdown in commercial air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Investment-grade rated companies use revolving credit facilities as backstop financing, with these facilities remaining undrawn for the most part.
The U.S. jet manufacturer has the option to raise the size of the two-year credit facility to as much as $6 billion, the person said on Thursday.
A Boeing spokesman declined to comment. The development was earlier reported by Bloomberg News.
Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith had discussed raising more debt at the company’s quarterly earnings call in January.
Smith said Boeing has “sufficient liquidity” currently, but it continues to consider all options to strengthen its balance sheet.
(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in Boston, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta