US officials say cyber crimes becoming more 'organized'

Online scams are increasingly being committed by organized crime syndicates out to profit from sophisticated ruses rather than hackers keen to make an online name for themselves, a top US official, quoted by a Reuters report, said.

The report quoted Christopher Painter, deputy chief of the computer crimes and intellectual property section at the US Department of Justice, as saying that there had been a distinct shift in recent years in the type of cyber criminals that online detectives now encountered.

"There has been a change in the people who attack computer networks, away from the 'bragging hacker' toward those driven by monetary motives," Painter said.

Although media reports often focused on stories about teenage hackers tracked down in their bedroom, the greater danger lies in the more anonymous virtual interlopers, the report said.

"There are still instances of these 'lone-gunman' hackers but more and more we are seeing organized criminal groups, groups that are often organized online targeting victims via the Internet," said Painter, in London for a cyber crime conference.

Typically, these groups engaged in ID theft, carding (the illegal use of bank cards) and so-called Botnet armies where hundreds and sometimes thousands of computers were taken over and used to infect other machines, the official, quoted by Reuters, further said.