The September 28, 2005 BBC article “Boom times for hi-tech fraudsters” is pretty scary. Just as people are continuing to offer amazing services and share ideas via the web on a daily basis, so also do criminals gain additional tools and resources for advancing agendas of evil and wrongdoing. 🙁

The growth of “botnets” using “zombies” is on the rise. No, this is not a fictional work about Haitian voodoo. We are talking about real-world, high-tech problems affecting millions of computer users and companies each day. For an excellent article about this written in non-technical, layman’s terms, refer to the article “THE ZOMBIE HUNTERS: On the trail of cyberextortionists” posted in The New Yorker yesterday. Among other things, the article defines terms like “crackers” and “script kiddies,” which are unfortunately increasing in number.

ZDNetIndia reported on September 22, 2005, that while US hosted systems are still the primary sources of many Internet-based attacks, increasingly systems in Asia are being compromised and utilized as “zombies” in these malicious events. These attacks are, as the article points out, “just a straight, old-fashioned protection racket, with a completely new method.” So sad. As much as things change, they also seem to stay the same. 🙁

Especially when computer users are running the Windows operating system, it is very important to have updated antivirus and anti-spyware/adware software programs running. Miguel Guhlin has an excellent list of free software tools available for antivirus and other purposes in his article “Download a la Mode: Over 50 Free Software Tools to Make Computing Easier.”

Macintosh users are still, apparently, thankfully immune from these types of attacks and “computer zombie takeovers.” I have yet to read a single article online referencing a malicious Mac OS X-based virus or malware program being utilized by cyber-criminals.

The New Yorker article also references the Opte Project, which is an amazing undertaking worth a glance. The project creators are generating visual maps of the Internet. In their own words:

This project was created to make a visual representation of a space that is very much one-dimensional, a metaphysical universe. The data represented and collected here serves a multitude of purposes: Modeling the Internet, analyzing wasted IP space, IP space distribution, detecting the result of natural disasters, weather, war, and esthetics/art. This project is free and represents a lot of donated time, please enjoy.

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2 Responses to Lucrative high tech crime

  1. Wes, thanks for sharing this article! Although these items are of concern, of course, I also want to challenge users to protect their private documents using personal encryption programs. Encryption of personal documents has gotten a lot easier these days and…it’s not just for geeks anymore.

    Windows users can take advantage of Windows Privacy Tools, a free open source software tool available to Windows users.. Even if the media their documents are on are lost or stolen, or hacked, encrypted documents are protected.

    I encourage those reading your blog entry to take the time to find out more about Windows Privacy tools online at:

    Take care,
    Miguel Guhlin

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Good point Miguel. Freeware PGP is still my recommendation for folks however, I want to stick with cross platform tools whenever possible!

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