International organized crime groups, lured by thefts that can net hundreds of millions of dollars, increasingly are turning to cybercrime, Leslie Caldwell, new head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, tells the Wall Street Journal. Caldwell, who took over in June, plans to make combating online crime a priority, but acknowledged that the growing threats could be difficult to fight. “Organized crime is very capable of adapting and evolving, and, frankly, cybercrime is a relatively low-risk proposition for a lot of organized criminals and it can be extraordinarily lucrative,” Caldwell said.
Among tools the groups use are “botnets”—networks of hijacked computers used to steal information, attack other systems or spew out spam. The Justice Department struck a blow this spring, when it shut down a botnet infected with malicious software known as Gameover Zeus. Prosecutors said the network had been used to steal $100 million. “If you can do something like that…why would you bother setting up a major international narcotics trafficking organization? The chances of success are high, the chances of capture are lower and the sentences are not as long if you do get caught,” said Caldwell, who testifies today to a Senate subcommittee.