The UK's online police force, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), has confirmed that the level of crime on the Internet is growing.
In an exclusive interview with ZDNet UK, deputy head of the unit Superintendent Mick Deats warned that the sudden uptake of insecure broadband was allowing criminals to control the computers of regular consumers.
"All indicators show an increase," said Deats on Thursday. "It's on the up. It's the uptake of broadband that hackers and the botnet herders [are exploiting]. Botnet technology continues to be the common denominator for the investigations we carry out."
A botnet consists of thousands of compromised computers networked, typically for malicious use. The combined processing power of a botnet can be harnessed — a process sometimes referred to as herding — and used to send huge quantities of spam or carry out denial-of-service attacks. .
The NHTCU will launch results of its annual survey on cybercrime next Tuesday. Deats wouldn't give any advance details of the survey, but he did say that Mafia-like organised crime gangs were becoming more involved with cybercrime.
"Their specialities range from writing malicious code to deploying botnets focusing on identity or banking details," he said. "All of these specialists are interacting with each other and all are taking a slice of the pie. And that's a difficult model to tackle."
Later this year, the unit will launch "Project Endurance", a UK-wide IT security-awareness campaign, and next year it will become part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).