Tag Archives: cybercrime

Is Cyberwar the New Normal?

The Internet these days is often compared to the Wild West. It, too, is a wide open frontier with endless possibilities, loose rules, limited government controls and not a few rustlers and bandits lurking along its trails. But unlike other frontiers, the Net seems to steadily becoming more dangerous, not less. And there are now armies on the move. Hackers aren’t just computer whiz kids, online scam artists, or even criminal networks any more. Hacking has become a weapon of war. Stunning accusations in a recent report by Mandiant, a US online security firm, provide insights of just how persistent threats from government hackers working for certain enemy states have grown. The company has been investigating security breaches at hundreds of organizations around the world since 2004. Their tracking of threats has allowed them to identify more than 20 hacking groups within China. The largest of these, which they called APT1, for “Advanced Persistent Threat” has conducted vast hauls of information from hundreds of organizations since 2006. Madiant’s detective work on over 150 corporate victims for over 7 years paid off. They were able to identify APT1 as a unit of the People’s Liberation Army of China with a code designation of Unit 61398, precisely located its facilities in the middle of Shanghai, and even named three key developers. They watched APT1 compromise 141 companies in 20 industries, and studied in detail APT1’s sophisticated methodology – in one case, as … Continue reading

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The Right to Internet Access

How essential is the Net? How vital is access to the Internet at all times? Does being cut off impair or maybe even threaten modern life? If you’re one of the many who would argue that yes, the ability to get online is absolutely basic to life, work, society, and entertainment, you’re not alone. And in a landmark ruling, the highest court in Germany agrees with you. Recently, the German Federal Supreme Court ruled that consumers can demand damages – financial compensation – for service outages. The case involved a suit by a man who lost his DSL connection for 2 months. For Germans, the decision places Internet access in the same small class of assets protected because they are necessary to survive and function in modern society. These  include homes, telephones, and automobiles. Consider that: loss of Internet access is deemed as big an inconvenience as losing a car! This means that sanctions denying access may not be applied. German Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said, “The judgment of the Federal Court shows that for an informed life, the network has become  fundamental. It is a realization that the use of the Internet is a civil right.” This is not the first time a government had declared Internet access is a basic human right. France was first to do so back in 2009. Finland went even further later that year when it declared it would provide each citizen with … Continue reading

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The Hazards of Abandoning a Domain

It happens all the time: you click on a link and the website that comes up is not what you expected. If you’re lucky, the page is simply gone, but the site may look oddly similar and contain links for the subject you’re interested in, or it may be a trap bristling with malware and spam. In any case, you probably shrug and move on, pausing briefly to delete the bookmark if there is one, but you likely don’t spend much time wondering what happened. What happened is that the website owner quit. Maybe she or he died, or their lives and interests changed, or the company went broke. Possibly the owner just forgot to renew the domain registration. Whatever the cause, abandoned domains rarely just die quietly forgotten any more. Usually they are snapped up even if they are not high-traffic, popular sites, often by a domain registrar hoping to cash in on, but increasingly by people with worse intentions in mind. Not long ago, it was not uncommon for websites of churches, schools and government institutions that had lapsed to be grabbed up by Web porn purveyors. They may have done it more for the shock value rather than to make money, but in more recent times even more sinister characters have been doing much the same. Nowadays, an abandoned website may present an irresistible temptation to hackers and spammers to walk in and take over. However, unlike … Continue reading

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