Brian Acohido has an article in today's USA Today, Cybergangs use cheap labor to break codes on social sites. It's front page, above the fold, and describes how the Bad Guys have harnessed well educated but inexpensive labor in their latest attack vector.
Basically, they're paying people to enter the captchas - up to a penny per captcha. One security researcher looked into the job openings that were advertised, and came away astonished and dismayed:
To carry out many of these automated attacks, cybercriminals first must overcome "captchas," the distorted letters and characters that users of an e-mail or social-networking account are required to type to complete certain online forms. For years, captchas have helped to stop or bog down automated programs aimed at creating, among other things, e-mail accounts that promote scams such as fake computer virus protection and bogus accounts on social websites that can be used to collect personal information on legitimate users.
Now, security specialists say, a growing number of captcha-breaking groups are using real people to type in captcha responses for cybergangs around the world. This is allowing the gangs to create fake e-mail and social-network accounts by the tens of thousands — and use them as the starting point for a variety of cyberscams spread by e-mail and instant messages.
The job description as translated by Shevchenko: "Your new job is printing English text that you see in the pictures. (Images of captchas were shown.) All you need is to know English alphabet and know where the keys are located on a keyboard. For every correctly entered word you will receive up to 1 cent, depending on the level that you have achieved. Your only limit is your typing speed. Every minute, you'll be able to correctly type the text from 10 pictures on average. Thus, with an average price of 0.5 cent per one correctly typed text from a picture, your salary will be 3 US dollars per hour."$3/hour is not had when the average take home pay is $2000/year. All you need is an Internet connection and the patience to type 35 captchas per minute.
This is a great article. Kudos to the MSM for giving it prominence.