01/29/2014 10:44 am ET Updated Mar 31, 2014

Beware: Cybercrooks Are Becoming More Sophisticated

Did you know that cybercrooks are willing to spend up to $4,000 for software that enables them to steal your identity?

According to a 2011 Symantec Report on Attack Kits and Malicious Websites, these dastardly dudes (or dudettes) are spending from $40 to $4,000 on kits that will make their jobs easier as they troll the net for credit card numbers, etc. And, if that wasn't enough, they're pirating these kits and stealing from each other to save a few bucks!

Most of these kits, which are being created using ZeuS, Spyeye and Battle, are used to create malicious websites that will steal your identity as soon as you load a web page. This has pretty much displaced the old misspelled emails and greeting cards containing malicious code, although they still rear their heads when they think we're not looking.

So, why should we care?

Apparently, these attack kits have virtually automated the process of creating these cyber attacks, which means a person with absolutely no programming experience can set these in motion. And, according to the report, cybercrooks, who once acted alone, are now banding together and there's even the possibility of organized crime getting on board.

The result? More attacks, more malicious websites and more vulnerability on the part of the average computer user.

The defense?

Obviously, everyone should be running Internet security software on their computers, but there are a lot of folks that feel warm and cuddly just by activating SPAM and spyware protection and not installing the website monitoring plug-ins that came with their security software.

These plug-ins work with your web browser and block access to websites that contain malicious code or warn you that your security may be at risk by entering a site.

Yes, they slow down your browser for a second or two. Yes, sometimes they deliver false warnings because the website creator has failed to update the site's security certificate. But these are welcome annoyances if these plug-ins prevent you from becoming a victim!

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