Organised crime is "grooming" a new generation of would-be cybercriminals using tactics which echo those used by the KGB to recruit operatives at the height of the cold war, according to a new blockbuster study by net security firm McAfee.
McAfee's second annual Virtual Criminology report sensationally claims that crime gangs are targeting academic high-fliers in much the way Soviet intelligence agencies recruited spies such as notorious traitor Kim Philby in the 1940s. The study, which we reckon might prove a plausible basis for the next Tom Clancy blockbuster, suggests that net savvy teens as young as 14 are being "attracted into cybercrime by the celebrity status of hi-tech criminals and the promise of making money without the risks associated with traditional crime".
The idea that young script kiddies dabble in illegality partly due to the publicity afforded to convicted virus writers, often wrongly described as tech geniuses who foiled experts in the mainstream press, has legs. As does the suggestion that high tech crimes often go undetected. But McAfee takes a flight of fancy when it talks about the "malware milkround".
A process by which organised crime is now "employing KGB-style tactics to ensnare the next generation of hackers and malware authors. Cybercriminals are actively approaching students and graduates of IT technology courses to recruit a fresh wealth of cyber skill to their ranks," McAfee breathlessly suggests.
Such a scenario has never been the subject of a criminal case and it beggars belief that infamous VXers, such as the Send Safe gang, would venture into Western Europe, where they would face arrest. Unfortunately there's more than enough criminal talent in Russia, other regions of eastern Europe and China to keep the malware industry going for years to come.