UK students have become a recruitment opportunity for organised gangs behind internet scams. Talented young students are being target to produce trojan horses, software that secretly installs on personal computers and allows them to be used to send vast quantities of spam mail without the users' permission or knowledge.
These new tactics were exposed in a new report published by McAfee, the computer security company. The report also covers the rise in phishing, conning users to give their online banking details out by hoax emails claiming to be from real banks. UK Payment Association Apacs, the trade association for organisations that deliver payment services, shows the cost of online banking fraud to be £22.5m for the first six months of 2006, compared to a total of £14.5m in the same period in 2005, a 55% rise.
The report, compiled with the Metropolitan police and FBI, identifies bright students rather than existing criminals as the primary target. One tactic used is blackmailing students who have hacked out of curiosity rather than malicious intent. Although there is news of gangs sponsoring students through university, it is only a significant problem in less affluent countries than the UK.