In addition to the dangerous and lucrative activities of professional cybercriminals, there are also risks from some petty forms of cyber-theft.

The reasons behind petty theft

Following the emergence of Internet services – including mail, web and hosting services – members of the ‘computer underground’ looked for ways to benefit from these services, without having to pay for them. These petty criminals used specially developed Trojans, in order to steal a legitimate user’s login and password – or to steal several logins and passwords from several infected computers.

Originally, many of these Trojans were written by young people that couldn’t afford to pay for Internet services:

  • 1997 saw the spread of Trojans designed to steal AOL passwords.
  • In 1998, Trojans of this kind started to affect other Internet services.
  • In later years – with reductions in the cost of Internet services – this type of activity started to decrease.

Today’s petty theft threats

Despite the lower cost of Internet services, Trojans that steal the passwords for dial-up, AOL and ICQ – plus access codes for other services – still represent a considerable part of the everyday inflow of cyber threats that are handled by antivirus labs. However, there are also some additional forms of petty theft:

  • Thieves are creating other types of Trojans – that steal account information and key files of various program products and resources from infected computers, for the benefit of the thief.
  • In recent years, there has also been a constant increase in the number of Trojans that steal personal information from network games (gaming ‘virtual property’), for unauthorised use or resale.

How to protect yourself against petty theft

Anti-malware solutions that combine signature-based detection, proactive heuristic analysis and cloud-assisted technologies can help to secure your devices and data against both recognised Trojans and new or emerging cyber threats.

Kaspersky Lab offers multi-layer anti-malware products – that combine powerful technologies running on your device, plus cloud-assisted services – to deliver improved protection for:

  • Windows PCs
  • Linux computers
  • Apple Macs
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets

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