Crimeware is a class of malware designed specifically to automate cybercrime.[1]

Crimeware (as distinct from spyware and adware) is designed to perpetrate identity theft through social engineering or technical stealth in order to access a computer user's financial and retail accounts for the purpose of taking funds from those accounts or completing unauthorized transactions on behalf of the cyberthief.[citation needed] Alternatively, crimeware may steal confidential or sensitive corporate information. Crimeware represents a growing problem in network security as many malicious code threats seek to pilfer valuable, confidential information.

The cybercrime landscape has shifted from individuals developing their own tools to a market where crimeware, tools and services for illegal online activities, can be easily acquired in online marketplaces. These crimeware markets are expected to expand, especially targeting mobile devices.[2]

The term crimeware was coined by David Jevans in February 2005 in an Anti-Phishing Working Group response to the FDIC article "Putting an End to Account-Hijacking Identity Theft".[3]


Criminals use a variety of techniques to steal confidential data through crimeware, including through the following methods:

Delivery vectors

Crimeware threats can be installed on victims' computers through multiple delivery vectors, including:


Crimeware can have a significant economic impact due to loss of sensitive and proprietary information and associated financial losses. One survey estimates that in 2005 organizations lost in excess of $30 million due to the theft of proprietary information.[9] The theft of financial or confidential information from corporate networks often places the organizations in violation of government and industry-imposed regulatory requirements that attempt to ensure that financial, personal and confidential.

United States

US laws and regulations include:

See also


  1. ^ Jakobsson, M; Ramzan, Z. (6 April 2008). Crimeware: Understanding New Attacks and Defenses. Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 0-321-50195-0.
  2. ^ Gad, Mamoud (2014). "Crimeware Marketplaces and Their Facilitating Technologies". Technology innovation management review. 4 (11): 28–33.
  3. ^ "Putting an End to Account-Hijacking Identity Theft". Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 5 January 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  4. ^ "Cyberthieves Silently Copy Your Password", The New York Times
  5. ^ Swinhoe, Dan (2020-04-23). "Pharming explained: How attackers use fake websites to steal data". CSO Online. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  6. ^ a b Symantec Internet Security Report, Vol. IX, March 2006, p. 71
  7. ^ "Protecting Corporate Assets from E-mail Crimeware" Archived January 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Avinti, Inc., p.1,
  8. ^ Sood, Aditya (2013). "Crimeware-as-a-service—A survey of commoditized crimeware in the underground market". International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection. 6 (1): 28–38. doi:10.1016/j.ijcip.2013.01.002.
  9. ^ CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey 2005, p.15