Sunday, June 03, 2007

Online Criminals Near Impossible to Nab

Forensic investigations start at the end. Think of it: You wouldn’t start using science and technology to establish facts (that’s the dictionary definition of forensics) unless you had some reason to establish facts in the first place. But by that time, the crime has already happened. So while requisite, forensics is ultimately unrewarding.

A clear illustration of this fact comes from the field investigations manager for a major credit services company. Sometime last year, he noticed a clutch of fraudulent purchases on cards that all traced back to the same aquarium. He learned quite a bit through forensics. He learned, for example, that an aquarium employee had downloaded an audio file while eating a sandwich on her lunch break. He learned that when she played the song, a rootkit hidden inside the song installed itself on her computer. That rootkit allowed the hacker who’d planted it to establish a secure tunnel so he could work undetected and “get root”—administrator’s access to the aquarium network.

Sounds like a successful investigation. But the investigator was underwhelmed by the results. Why? Because he hadn’t caught the perpetrator and he knew he never would. What’s worse, that lunch break with the sandwich and the song download had occurred some time before he got there. In fact, the hacker had captured every card transaction at the aquarium for two years.

Read the [10 page] article HERE.

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