Computer Crime In The 1990’sWe’re being ushered into the digital frontier.
It’s a cyberland withincredible promise and untold dangers. Are we prepared ? It’s a battle betweenmodern day computer cops and digital hackers. Essentially just think what iscontrolled by computer systems, virtually everything.By programming a telephone voice mail to repeat the word yes over and overagain a hacker has beaten the system.
The hacker of the 1990’s is increasinglybecoming more organized very clear in what they’re looking for and very, verysophisticated in their methods of attack.. As hackers have become moresophisticated and more destructive, governments, phone companies and businessesare struggling to defend themselves.Phone FraudIn North America the telecommunications industry estimates long distancefraud costs five hundred million perhaps up to a billion every year, the exactthe exact figures are hard to be sure of but in North America alone phone fraudcommitted by computer hackers costs three, four maybe even up to five billiondollars every year. Making an unwitting company pay for long distance calls isthe most popular form of phone fraud today.
The first step is to gain access toa private automated branch exchange known as a “PABX” or “PBX”. One of these canbe found in any company with twenty or more employees. A “PABX” is a computerthat manages the phone system including it’s voice mail. Once inside a “PABX” ahacker looks for a phone whose voice mail has not yet been programmed, then thehacker cracks it’s access code and programs it’s voice mail account to acceptcharges for long distance calls, until the authorities catch on, not for a fewdays, hackers can use voice mail accounts to make free and untraceablecalls toall over the world. The hackers that commit this type of crime are becomingincreasingly organized. Known as “call cell operators” they setup flyby nightstorefronts were people off the street can come in and make long distance callsat a large discount, for the call cell operators of course the calls costnothing, by hacking into a PABX system they can put all the charges on thevictimized companies tab.
With a set of stolen voice mail access codes known as”good numbers” hackers can crack into any phone whenever a company disables thephone they’re using. In some cases call cell operators have run up hundreds ofthousands of dollars in long distance charges, driving businesses and companiesstraight into bankruptcy. Hacking into a PABX is not as complicated as somepeople seem to think.
The typical scenario that we find is an individual who hasa “demon dialer” hooked up to their personal home computer at home that doesn’tnecessarily need to be a high powered machine at all but simply through theconnection of a modem into a telephone line system. Then this “demon dialer” isprogrammed to subsequently dial with the express purpose of looking for andrecording dialtone. A demon dialer is a software program that automaticallycalls thousands of phone numbers to find ones that are connected to computers. Abasic hacker tool that can be downloaded from the internet.
They are extremelyeasy programs to use. The intention is to acquire dialtone, that enables thehacker to move freely through the telephone network. It’s generally getting moresinister. We are now seeing a criminal element now involved in term of thecrimes they commit, the drugs, money laundering etc. These people are verycareful they want to hide their call patterns so they’ll hire these people toget codes for them so they can dial from several different calling locations sothey cannot be detected.
The worlds telephone network is a vast maze, there are many places to hidebut once a hacker is located the phone company and police can track their everymove. The way they keep track is by means of a device called a “DNR” or a dialnumber recorder. This device monitors the dialing patterns of any suspectedhacker. It lists all the numbers that have been dialed from their location, theduration of the telephone call and the time of disconnection.
The process ofcatching a hacker begins at the phone company’s central office were thousands oflines converge to a main frame computer, the technicians can locate the exactline that leads to a suspected hackers phone line by the touch of a button. Withthe “DNR” device the “computer police” retrieve the number and also why the callwas made and if it was made for illegal intention they will take action and thisperson can be put in prison for up to five years and be fined for up to $7500.00.The telephone network is a massive electronic network that depends onthousands of computer run software programs and all this software in theory canbe reprogrammed for criminal use. The telephone system is in other words apotentially vulnerable system, by cracking the right codes and inputting thecorrect passwords a hacker can sabotage a switching system for millions ofphones, paralyzing a city with a few keystrokes.Security experts say telephone terrorism poses a threat, society hasn’teven begun to fathom ! You have people hacking into systems all the time. Therewere groups in the U.
S.A in 1993 that shutdown three of the four telephoneswitch stations on the east coast, if they had shutdown the final switch stationas well the whole east coast would have been without phones. Things of thisnature can happen and have happened in the past.
Back in the old days you hadmechanical switches doing crossbars, things of that nature. Today all telephoneswitches are all computerized, they’re everywhere. With a computer switch if youtake the first word “computer” that’s exactly what it is, a switch beingoperated by a computer. The computer is connected to a modem, so are you and allthe hackers therefore you too can run the switches.Our generation is the first to travel within cyberspace, a virtual worldthat exists with all the computers that form the global net. For most peopletoday cyberspace is still a bewildering and alien place. How computers work andhow they affect our lives is still a mystery to all but the experts, butexpertise doesn’t necessarily guarantee morality.
Originally the word hackermeant a computer enthusiasts but now that the internet has revealed it’spotential for destruction and profit the hacker has become the outlaw ofcyberspace. Not only do hackers commit crimes that cost millions of dollars,they also publicize their illegal techniques on the net where they innocentminds can find them and be seduced by the allure of power and money. This vastelectronic neighborhood of bits and bytes has stretched the concepts of law andorder. Like handbills stapled to telephone polls the internet appears to defyregulation. The subtleties and nuances of this relatively new form to the words”a gray area” and “right and wrong”. Most self described hackers say they havebeen given a bad name and that they deserve more respect.
For the most part theysay hackers abide by the law, but when they do steal a password or break into anetwork they are motivated by a helping desire for knowledge, not for maliciousintent. Teenagers are especially attracted by the idea of getting something fornothing.When system managers try to explain to hackers that it is wrong to breakinto computer systems there is no point because hackers with the aid of acomputer possess tremendous power. They cannot be controlled and they have theability to break into any computer system they feel like.
But suppose one day ahacker decides to break into a system owned by a hospital and this computer isin charge of programming the therapy for a patient there if a hacker inputs theincorrect code the therapy can be interfered with and the patient may beseriously hurt. Even though this wasn’t done deliberately. These are the typeof circumstances that give hackers a bad reputation. Today anyone with acomputer and a modem can enter millions of computer systems around the world. Onthe net they say bits have no boundaries this means a hacker half way around theworld can steal passwords and credit card numbers, break into computer systemsand plant crippling viruses as easily as if they were just around the corner.
The global network allows hackers to reach out and rob distant people withlightning speed.If cyberspace is a type of community, a giant neighborhood made up ofnetworked computer users around the world, then it seems natural that manyelements of traditional society can be found taking shape as bits and bytes.With electronic commerce comes electronic merchants, plugged-in educatorsprovide networked education, and doctors meet with patients in offices on-line.IT should come as no surprise that there are also cybercriminals committingcybercrimes.As an unregulated hodgepodge of corporations, individuals, governments,educational institutions, and other organizations that have agreed in principleto use a standard set of communication protocols, the internet is wide open toexploitation.
There are no sheriffs on the information highway waiting to zappotential offenders with a radar gun or search for weapons if someone lookssuspicious. By almost all accounts, this lack of “law enforcement” leaves netusers to regulate each other according to the reigningnorms of the moment.Community standards in cyberspace appear to be vastly different from thestandards found at the corner of Markham and Lawrence. Unfortunately, cyberspaceis also a virtual tourist trap where faceless, nameless con artists can work thecrowds.Mimicking real life, crimes and criminals come in all varieties on theinternet. The FBI’s National Computer Squad is dedicated to detecting andpreventing all types of computer -related crimes. Some issues being carefullystudied by everyone from the net veterans and law enforcement agencies toradical crimes include:Computer Network Break-InsUsing software tools installed on a computer in a remote location,hackers can break into any computer systems to steal data, plant viruses ortrojan horses, or work mischief of a less serious sort by changing user names orpasswords.
Network intrusions have been made illegal by the U.S. federalgovernment, but detection and enforcement are difficult.Industrial EspionageCorporations, like governments, love to spy on the enemy. Networkedsystems provide new opportunities for this , as hackers-for-hire retrieveinformation about product development and marketing strategies, rarely leavingbehind any evidence of the theft.
Not only is tracing the criminal labor-intensive, convictions are hard to obtain when laws are not written withelectronic theft in mind.Software PiracyAccording to estimates by U.S. Software Publisher’s Association, as much as$7.5 billion of American software may be illegally copied and distributedworldwide. These copies work as well as the originals, and sell forsignificantly less money. Piracy is relatively easy, and only the largest ringsof distributors are usually to serve hard jail time when prisons are overcrowdedwith people convicted of more serious crimes.
Child PornographyThis is one crime that is clearly illegal, both on and off the internet.Crackdowns may catch some offenders, but there are still ways to acquire imagesof children in varying stages of dress and performing a variety of sexual acts.Legally speaking, people who provide access to child porn face the same chargeswhether the images are digital or on a piece of paper. Trials of network usersarrested in a recent FBI bust may challenge the validity of those laws as theyapply to online services.
Mail BombingsSoftware can be written that will instruct a computer to do almost anything,and terrorism has hit the internet in the form of mail bombings. By instructinga computer to repeatedly send mail (email) to a specified person’s email address,the cybercriminal can overwhelm the recipient’s personal account and potentiallyshut down entire systems. This may not be illegal , but it is certainlydisruptive.Password SniffersPassword sniffers are programs that monitor and record the name andpassword of network users as they log in, jeopardizing security at a site.Whoever installs the sniffer can then impersonate an authorized user and log into access restricted documents.
Laws are not yet up to adequately prosecute aperson for impersonating another person on-line, but laws designed to preventunauthorized access to information may be effective in apprehending hackersusing sniffer programs. The Wall Street Journal suggest in recent reports thathackers may have sniffed out passwords used by members of America On-line, aservice with more than 3.5 million subscribers. If the reports are accurate,even the president of the service found his account security jeopardized.
SpoofingSpoofing is the act of disguising one computer to electronically “look” likeanother computer in order to gain access to a system that would normally berestricted. Legally, this can be handles in the same manner as password sniffers,but the law will have to change if spoofing is going to be addressed with morethan a quick fix solution. Spoofing was used to access valuable documents storedon a computer belonging to security expert Tsutomu Shimomura (security expert ofNintendo U.S.A)Credit Card FraudThe U.S secret service believes that half a billion dollars may be lostannually by customers who have credit card and calling card numbers stolen fromon-line databases.
Security measures are improving and traditional methods oflaw enforcement seem to be sufficient for prosecuting the thieves of suchinformation. Bulletin boards and other on-line services are frequent targets forhackers who want to access large databases or credit card information. Suchattacks usually result in the implementation of stronger security systems.Since there is no single widely-used definition of computer-relatedcrime, computer network users and law enforcement officials most distinguishbetween illegal or deliberate network abuse versus behavior that is merelyannoying.
Legal systems everywhere are busily studying ways of dealing withcrimes and criminals on the internet.TABLE OF CONTENTSPHONE FRAUD……………………………Pg1NETWORK BREAK-INS………………………Pg6INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE……………………Pg7SOFTWARE PIRACY………………………..Pg7CHILD PORNOGRAPHY………………………Pg7MAIL BOMBING…………………………..Pg8PASSWORD SNIFFING………………………Pg8SPOOFING………………………………Pg9CREDIT CARD FRAUD………………………Pg9