Tag Archives: cybercrimes

Resource for Learning about Security and Cybercrimes

In the last several years, cybercrime has become an increasing problem, especially with its ever evolving nature. The criminals using cyber methods to get what they want are smarter than your average thief, which means that to really protect yourself from this sort of crime, it’s smart to learn as much as you can about how these crimes happen. One great place to start is at Master of Homeland Security list of the Top 100 National Security Resources.

While a list of one hundred different sites is an immense amount of information to explore, there are a few on the list that really stand out, either because they are very informative or just simply an interesting collection of information. Not all of the sites necessarily pertain to cybercrime, but they all are security related.

First on the list is In Homeland Security, a site which provides news and information about both terrorism and homeland defense. The information isn’t just limited to the US either. There are several international news articles.

Then, second on the list is a really interesting blog by the TSA which Continue reading Resource for Learning about Security and Cybercrimes

Did your DNS change for the worse? Make sure you aren’t getting the wrong Internet address

Don’t want to lose your Internet services?  Then check your DNS for malware.  Sound “Greek” to you?  Then this statement from the FBI should get your attnetion.

“To assist victims affected by the DNSChanger malicious software, the FBI obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) to deploy and maintain temporary clean DNS servers. This solution is temporary, providing additional time for victims to clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings. The clean DNS servers will be turned off on July 9, 2012, and computers still impacted by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity at that time.”

As part of a two year long investigation, the FBI arrested and charged six Estonian nationals with running a sophisticated, and fraudulent Internet ring.

The indictment, said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of our New York office, “describes an intricate international conspiracy conceived and carried out by sophisticated criminals.” She added, “The harm inflicted by the defendants was not merely a matter of reaping illegitimate income.”

This cyber band of thieves used malware called DNSChanger to:

  • infect approximately 4 million computers in more than 100 countries.
  • 500,000 infections in the U.S. (individuals, companies and even NASA)
  • using and manipulating Internet advertising they generated at least $14 million in stolen fees
  • some instances kept the users’ anti-virus software and operating systems from updating, pulling those machines infected by DNSChanger at risk for more malicious software.

DNS  (Domain Name System) is an Internet service that converts domain names into IP addresses.  It’s what causes the computers to “talk” to each other so that you may use your computer to visit a site.  Without them you would not have any Internet service including email, social networking or access to websites.  Criminals have learned that if they can control a DNS, then they can control where you visit, even sending you to sites that you had no intention of visiting or phony sites set up to shadow a real one and collect information and private data from you.

Sometimes those computers that have been subject to DNS malware (software that is malicious) find that that is not the only malware on their computer or hacking its way into their systems.

Checking your DNS to make sure that it is safe from malware is important because without it you could lose your Internet services.  While it is best and most effectively tested through a computer professional,  it is possible to check you DNS yourself for malware.    The other forms of malware may be stealing your username and passwords and sending them off for others to use for fraudulent reasons like identity theft, credit cards and even medical treatment.

You can visit the FI website to check your DNS and make sure that you continue to have the “all clear” to use the Internet.    There are testing sites available in a variety of languages.  For those that want to test their systems on their own there is a helpful PDF instruction booklet available that will walk you through the various steps needed to test your DNS no matter what time of system you may be operating.

So I did just that.  I thought better safe than sorry and while I didn’t consult a professional I did use the site http://www.dcwg.org/detect/ to check my DNS.   It was easy, there is no software to download and no looking around to find information that I would need to complete the more intricate steps needed to test my laptop.  Actually I didn’t have to do anything but “click” the link provided.  Here’s the image you should see and the message =GREEN. Your computer appears to be looking up IP addresses correctly.

If your DNS does show malware or suspicious activity the FBI would like to hear from you. Visit their website and file your complaint using this form. 

Sextortion: What is it and how can protect yourself from it?

The internet can be a very scary place and it seems every day it becomes scarier.  This is especially true for parents of teens. In the early days of the internet the concern was about the websites their children could access or stumble across. Next came instant messaging, chatting and social networking. Parents needed to monitor and be aware of who their teens were chatting with, “friending” and whether or not the teen actually knew the person on the other end. It is not uncommon to regularly hear of a teen who has been lured by a predator into meeting face to face. In some cases the teen actually gets onto an airplane to meet a stranger pretending to be a friend.  It shouldn’t shock us that there is a new crime unfolding on the internet.

The ramifications of this new evolution online are devastating. This new concern for teens and parents is a form of bullying and extortion on steroids! It starts by a predator hacking into a computer of a victim (generally an underage girl). Once access is achieved, he searches for explicit photos on the computer, downloads them and then attempts to extort more pictures and/or videos from them. “Sextortion” is the new term coined by federal prosecutors to describe the crime that has been committed.

Sextortion involves sex and extortion being used online to bully, harass and embarrass unsuspecting victims.  Although there are only a few documented and confirmed cases around the country, it should give parents a reason to open lines of communication with their teens. The perpetrator of this type of crime rely on the teen being too afraid to tell anyone, especially parents.  Similar to pedophiles the “sextortionist” will coerce their victim Continue reading Sextortion: What is it and how can protect yourself from it?