The days of the lone hacker are seemingly over, with cybercrime organisations now run by bosses parading as business entrepreneurs, complete with criminal staff.


The findings, made by Finjan Inc's Malicious Code Research Center (MCRC), show that the ‘boss' does not commit the crime but leaves this to the ‘underboss' who provides trojans for attacks and also manages the ‘command and control'.


Next in line, ‘campaign managers', reporting to the so-called underboss, lead campaigns. They use their own ‘affiliation networks' as channels to perform attacks and steal data, which is then sold on by individuals who are not directly involved in the attacks.


The MCRC report, which covers trends for Q2 2008, discusses how loosely organised clusters of hackers trading stolen data are being replaced by highly organised cybercrime set-ups. 


“Over the course of the last 18 months we have been watching the profit-driven cybercrime market maturing rapidly. It has evolved into a booming business, operating in a major shadow economy with an organisational structure that closely mimics the real business world,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's chief technology officer.


He added: “Recent industry reports containing record numbers of malware infections during the first half of 2008 alone underline again the huge impact of cybercrime on today's businesses.”


Businesses should look closely at their security practices, advises Finjan. A layered security approach is recommended as a highly effective way of handling threats of cybercrime. Real time content inspection designed to detect cybercrime is a key factor in being properly protected.