Ramblings & ephemera

The Yakuza’s influence in Japan

From Jake Adelstein’s “This Mob Is Big in Japan” (The Washington Post: 11 May 2008): Most Americans think of Japan as a law-abiding and peaceful place, as well as our staunch ally, but reporting on the underworld gave me a different perspective. Mobs are legal entities here. Their fan magazines and comic books are sold […]

Real-life superheroes

From John Harlow’s “Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US” (The Times: 28 December 2008): There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then […]

Bruce Schneier on security & crime economics

From Stephen J. Dubner’s interview with Bruce Schneier in “Bruce Schneier Blazes Through Your Questions” (The New York Times: 4 December 2007): Basically, you’re asking if crime pays. Most of the time, it doesn’t, and the problem is the different risk characteristics. If I make a computer security mistake — in a book, for a […]

Online criminals pay the most for bank account details

From The Economist‘s “The price of online robbery” (24 November 2008): Bank details are the most popular single item for sale by online fraudsters, according to a new report by Symantec, an internet-security firm. They are also the priciest, perhaps because the average account for which details are offered has a balance of nearly $40,000. […]

How movies are moved around on botnets

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Figure 2.11 illustrates the use of botnets for selling stolen intellectual property, in this case Movies, TV shows, or video. The diagram is based on information from the Pyramid of Internet Piracy created by Motion Picture Arts Association (MPAA) […]

Money involved in adware & clicks4hire schemes

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Dollar-Revenue and GimmyCash are two companies that have paid for installation of their Adware programs. Each has a pay rate formula based on the country of installation. Dollar-Revenue pays 30 cents for installing their adware in a U. S. […]

The various participants in phishing schemes

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Christopher Abad provides insight into the phishing economy in an article published online by FirstMonday.org (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/ issue10_9/abad/). The article, “The economy of phishing: A survey of the operations of the phishing market,” reveals the final phase of the phishing […]

Earn $750,000 per month sending spam

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Most people can’t understand how anyone could make money sending out spam. It is the global scope of the Internet that makes it possible. When Jeremy Jaynes was arrested as one of the top ten spammers in the world […]

1st criminal case involving a botnet

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): The first criminal case involving a botnet went to trial in November 2005. Jeanson James Ancheta (a. k. a. Resili3nt), age 21, of Downey, California, was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail for conspiring to violate the […]

Social engineering a bank robbery

From Ernesto Londono and Clarence Williams’s “Md., D.C. Banks Duped By Phony Cash Courier” (The Washington Post: 12 January 2008): And on Thursday, about 9:30 a.m., a man dressed as an employee of the security company Brink’s walked into a Wachovia branch in downtown Washington and walked out with more than $350,000. The man had […]

Cloned trucks used to commit crimes

From Brian Ross’ “Fake FedEx Trucks; When the Drugs Absolutely Have to Get There” (ABC News: 18 January 2008): Savvy criminals are using some of the country’s most credible logos, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, DirecTV and the U.S. Border Patrol, to create fake trucks to smuggle drugs, money and illegal aliens across the border, according to […]

Tracking children who might commit a crime later

From Mark Townsend and Anushka Asthana’s “Put young children on DNA list, urge police” (The Guardian: 16 March 2008): Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert. Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences […]

Craigslist “everything is free!” scams

Robert Salisbury From “Man scammed by Craigslist ad” (The Seattle Times: 24 March 2008): The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan. But Robert […]

San Francisco surveillance cameras prove useless

From Heather Knight’s “S.F. public housing cameras no help in homicide arrests” (San Francisco Chronicle: 14 August 2007): The 178 video cameras that keep watch on San Francisco public housing developments have never helped police officers arrest a homicide suspect even though about a quarter of the city’s homicides occur on or near public housing […]

Surveillance cameras don’t reduce crime

From BBC News’ “CCTV boom ‘failing to cut crime’” (6 May 2008): Huge investment in closed-circuit TV technology has failed to cut UK crime, a senior police officer has warned. Det Ch Insp Mick Neville said the system was an “utter fiasco” – with only 3% of London’s street robberies being solved using security cameras. […]

Virtual kidnappings a problem in Mexico

From Marc Lacey’s “Exploiting Real Fears With ‘Virtual Kidnappings’ ” (The New York Times: 29 April 2008): MEXICO CITY — The phone call begins with the cries of an anguished child calling for a parent: “Mama! Papa!” The youngster’s sobs are quickly replaced by a husky male voice that means business. “We’ve got your child,” […]

Abuse of “terrorist” investigative powers

From BBC News’ “Council admits spying on family” (10 April 2008): A council has admitted spying on a family using laws to track criminals and terrorists to find out if they were really living in a school catchment. A couple and their three children were put under surveillance without their knowledge by Poole Borough Council […]

His employer’s misconfigured laptop gets him charged with a crime

From Robert McMillan’s “A misconfigured laptop, a wrecked life” (NetworkWorld: 18 June 2008): When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued Michael Fiola a Dell Latitude in November 2006, it set off a chain of events that would cost him his job, his friends and about a year of his life, as he fought criminal charges that […]

1/2 of all bots are in China

From “Report: China’s botnet problems grows” (SecurityFocus: 21 April 2008): Computers infected by Trojan horse programs and bot software are the greatest threat to China’s portion of the Internet, with compromises growing more than 20-fold in the past year, the nation’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT) stated in its 2007 annual report released last week. […]

Modern piracy on the high seas

From Charles Glass’ “The New Piracy: Charles Glass on the High Seas” (London Review of Books: 18 December 2003): Ninety-five per cent of the world’s cargo travels by sea. Without the merchant marine, the free market would collapse and take Wall Street’s dream of a global economy with it. Yet no one, apart from ship owners, […]