When you hear the words “organized crime” it conjures up images of famous gangsters like Al Capone or John Dillenger. You think of tommy gun wielding thugs smoking cheap cigars in the thick of the night. You think of dark alleys, shady looking hideouts and gold teeth.
Or you think of the non-romanticized version of drive-by shootings, long court sessions and all of the terrible pain and suffering caused by organized crime in the past.
You definitely don’t think of a few people hiding behind computers and codenames who have never met each other in real life. That’s not organized crime, those are a few annoying hackers who pester the world with malware and email scams because of some unguided sense of self-righteousness and worth.
But oh how the times have changed.
Organized crime has changed with the times, and I for one had no idea. I had assumed the gangsters of old had died off or become insignificant compared to their legendary predecessors. But I was wrong; they have just changed like the rest of the world. They have moved online as so many legitimate businesses have. They have morphed into a new kind of organized crime, organized cyber-crime.
Doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?
A skinny little guy wearing a bathrobe with a laptop in a fair trade coffee shop doesn’t seem as scary as two gargantuan thugs banging on your door. But as I said before, the times have changed and now that one guy sipping his espresso could be part of a crime network that costs the world economy an estimated $400 billion every year. You can’t say no one saw it coming however; “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth” (Matthew 5.5). Now I doubt he was talking about cyber organized crime but I thought it was funny that a lesson in the Bible applied to the changes in organized crime. Bible aside it seems your common thug is a thing of the past and now the real business is online.
You can now go and buy these organizations services. You can get in contact with them and say, “Can you infect 10 000 computers with this malware, and we’ll pay you x amount of dollars” and they’ll do it for you. It’s organized crime on a scarily profitable level. These groups are quite sophisticated, and in a way, more damaging than the gangs of old ever were. They may not take your life to send a message to other gangs, but they’ll steal hundreds of identities, hold thousands of phones ransom, and take control of your computer to access your bank accounts and personal information all for the right price.
While this is all very scary I want to revisit the effect on the world economy.
$400,000,000,000 to the world economy.
That’s 0.56% of the GWP (Gross World Product). $400 billion is lost to virtual crime of all things. On top of that it is estimated that cyber-crime cost the US 200,000 jobs, and Europe 150,000 jobs through losses in intellectual property and damage to the GDP. Let’s put that in perspective shall we?
In March of 2012 it was estimated that Obama had created 125 000 jobs (net) over the 3 years he was in office. That’s all I need to say. Organized cyber-crime has had more of an effect than Obama’s net changes to the job environment.
So in short:
Yes organized cyber-crime is a real thing. Yes it has an impact on the world. Yes it is the evolution of the gangsters of yore. Yes it can affect you individually. Yes abolishing organized cyber-crime would create more jobs than the net change Obama has managed to achieve in 3 years. Finally:
Yes that kid in his pajamas sipping a pumpkin latte can and will ruin your life.
Welcome to the mafia of the 21st century.
By: Michael Kachaniwsky