The FBI reports that a two-year sting operation resulted in the arrests of two dozen hackers in 8 countries on four continents. Of the 24 arrested, 11 were in the United States. The remaining 13 were apprehended in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, and the U.K.
Perhaps a hacker’s greatest vulnerability is a smug attitude that says “I’m smarter than everyone else.” The truth is law enforcement employs some of the smartest and most talented anti-hackers out there. They are also savvy enough to appeal to a criminal’s vanity.
That is why the uber-smart geeks at the FBI created their own web site. The phony web site, “Carder Profit”, provided a venue in which hackers could brag about how much they stole and trade/sell malware and hacking tools. Some of the tools included key-loggers that capture the keystrokes on the victim’s keyboard. Digital voyeurs could download tools to hijack a victim’s laptop camera. “Fulls” were offered for sale (a “full” is a full set of personal information required to steal an identity including names, social security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name).
Several features of the under-cover website were designed to enhance apprehension and increase the likelihood of a conviction. First, a hacker had to be registered with a valid email address. The site was used to identify the user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address. New users would either need two existing members to vouch for them or pay a registration fee. Discussion threads and private messages were recorded so bragging hackers could implicate themselves with admissible evidence.
It is the most poetic justice that these cyber-thugs were caught using the same tools that they used to prey on their innocent victims. My only regret is that we didn’t get to see that smug look on their faces fade away to pale shock as the cuffs were put on.
Bruce Bremer, MBA is LET’s technology contributor. Bruce retired from the Submarine Service after 21 years of in-depth experience with complex electronic technology. Since then, he has been involved in fleet modernization and military research analysis. He teaches electronics and alternative energy at a Virginia college. Besides his MBA, Bruce earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer networking. He has been volunteering in public safety for many years.
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