Category Archives: Gangsters

Bot Buyin

Pickers.jpg Bruce, seeing that the Storm Worm has sprouted stock tout popups on its own bots:
(((I’m guessing the next step is to contact Storm bot victims directly and ask them to join the Storm Network voluntarily. AFter all, if you obeyed that Storm spam pop-up, you cashed in; and this would be a valuable opportunity to become a foot-soldier in the biggest online organized=crime outfit ever.)))

Storm Worm spams its own bots, By Bruce Sterling, Beyond the Beyond, November 15, 2007 | 11:34:00 AM

Having proved that it can infect much of the Internet and the alleged security professionals can do nothing about it, Storm now bids to get its victims to join it?


Wealth of Internet Miscreants: Beyond Law Enforcement to Disrupting the Criminal Economy

figure4.gif How to get rich quick through ecrime:

This paper studies an active underground economy which specializes in the commoditization of activities such as credit card fraud, identity theft, spamming, phishing, online credential theft, and the sale of compromised hosts. Using a seven month trace of logs collected from an active underground market operating on public Internet chat networks, we measure how the shift from "hacking for fun" to "hacking for profit" has given birth to a societal substrate mature enough to steal wealth into the millions of dollars in less than one year.

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Internet Miscreants Jason Franklin, Vern Paxson, Adrian Perrig, and Stefan Savage. Proc. ACM CCS, October 2007.

How to stop it? Law enforcement is good, but insufficient. Ditto traditional technological Internet security methods. We already knew that. What now?

Real progress will be made by disrupting the criminal economy by poisoning trust. Read the paper for the authors’ suggestions of Sybil attacks and slander attacks. Make the criminals’ identities unreliable and poison their reputations.

This is considered the paper of the year by some prominent computer security professionals, and for good reason.


Web Panopticons: China and U.S.

panopticon.gif Fergie points out a university project investigating censorship:

The "Great Firewall of China," used by the government of the People’s Republic of China to block users from reaching content it finds objectionable, is actually a "panopticon" that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched, rather than a true firewall, according to researchers at UC Davis and the University of New Mexico.

The researchers are developing an automated tool, called ConceptDoppler, to act as a weather report on changes in Internet censorship in China. ConceptDoppler uses mathematical techniques to cluster words by meaning and identify keywords that are likely to be blacklisted.

University Researchers Analyze China’s Internet Censorship System, News Report, Government Technology News, Sep 11, 2007

So the Great Firewall of China watches what users are doing by actively intercepting their traffic. Meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A., how about a passive web panopticon?

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Online Crime Pays

dollarsign.jpg Why Internet security professionals are losing:

Today, few malware developers use their own code. They write it for the same reason commercial software developers do: to sell it for a healthy profit. If you’ve ever bought anything online, buying from them may be disconcertingly familiar. If you want to break into a computer or steal credit card numbers, you can buy the necessary software online, just like almost anything else. More than that, you can find user friendly, point-and-click attack applications that have been pre-tested and reviewed by experts, and read through customer feedback before making your purchase.

You might even be able to buy technical support or get a money back guarantee. Some developers offer their malware through a software-as-a-service model. If you prefer an even more hands-off approach, you can simply buy pre-screened credit card numbers and identity information itself, or sign a services agreement with someone who will do the dirty work for you. As in many other industries, money has given rise to professionalism.

Online crime and malware development has become a full-blown and extremely profitable commercial enterprise that in many ways mirrors the legitimate software market. "We’re in a world where these guys might as well just incorporate," says David Parry, Trend Micro’s Global Director of Security Education. "There’s certainly more money in the cybercrime market than the antivirus market. The internet security industry is a drop in the bucket; we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars."

Computer crime is slicker than you think, By David Raikow, CRN, 16 August 2007 08:04AM

Makes you wonder how long until traditional security companies get bought out by newly-IPOed offshore malware corps.


Microsoft RICO

Microsoft claims that I (and possibly you, dear reader) am violating 235 of its patents on Windows by running Ubuntu Linux:

After many earlier rounds of saber-rattling and FUD, Microsoft has announced that Free Software users — including everyone who, like me, uses Ubuntu Linux — are violating at least 235 of Microsoft’s patents, though they don’t say which ones. Microsoft are now threatening end users of GNU/Linux (that’s you and me again) with lawsuits unless we pay them protection money. "Nice operating system you got there, it’d be a shame if something were to happen to it."

The Microsoft position is this: even if you don’t use Windows, you still have to pay them as much money as they would have gotten for selling you a copy of it.

Microsoft says GNU/Linux violates 235+ Windows patents, Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, Monday, May 14, 2007

Microsoft did stop short of saying it would sue Linux users or its own customers:

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