Just as doctors specialize in a particular field of medicine, cybercriminals often focus on a single area of technical crime, according to Steven R. Chabinsky, FBI Deputy Assistant Director, Cyber Division. During his keynote address at the GovSec/FOSE Conference in Washington, D.C. last March, Chabinsky outlined 10 specializations the FBI typically sees within the world of cyber crime.
- Coders or programmers: "who write the malware, exploits, and other tools necessary to commit the crime;"
- Distributors or vendors: "who trade and sell stolen data, and act as vouchers of the goods provided by the other specialties;"
- Techies: "who maintain the criminal infrastructure, including servers, bulletproof ISPs, and encryption; and who often have knowledge of common database languages and SQL servers of course;"
- Hackers: "who search for and exploit application, system, and network vulnerabilities to gain administrator or payroll access;"
- Fraudsters: "who create and deploy social engineering schemes, including phishing, spamming, and domain squatting;"
- Hosters: "who provide "safe" hosting of illicit content servers and sites, often through elaborate botnet and proxy networks;"
- Cashers: "who control drop accounts and provide those names and accounts to other criminals for a fee, and who also typically control full rings of our eighth category, money mules;"
- Money mules: who complete "money transfers or wire transfers between bank accounts;"
- Tellers: "who help with transferring and laundering illicit proceeds through digital currency services and between different world currencies;"
- Leaders: "They're the "people-people." They choose the targets; choose the people they want to work each role; decide who does what, when, and where; and take care of personnel and payment issues." Many according to Chabinsky don't have any technical skills.
For a more in-depth explanation of each specialization, you can read the complete text of Chabinsky's keynote on the FBI Web site.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.