Friday, May 26, 2006

Why Should We Allow Eastern Europe to Export Cyber Crime

I just got finished reading an article from Business Week called "Meet the Hackers." It highlighted a trend that could very well be what's behind some of the massive "information breaches," we see on almost a weekly basis.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The picture that emerges is of organized gangs of young, mostly Eastern European hackers who are growing ever more brazen about doing business on the Web. They meet in underground forums with names like and to trade tips and data and coordinate scams that span the globe. (Those and other Web sites and organizations named by investigators did not respond to e-mails, instant messages, or phone calls seeking comment.) "Financial payment fraud has evolved tremendously," says John Corbelletta, a former police officer who is director of fraud control for Visa U.S.A. Inc. "Most of the cases I investigated when I was a cop involved people who had their cards stolen out of their purse. We didn't even think of counterfeiting cards."

One of them, a young man from the Ukraine (Dimitry Ivanovich Golubov) was recently arrested, and then released with the help of some highly placed friends in the Ukranian government. This was someone, who our government was interested in prosecuting and allegedly a "godfather" type in the cyber crime circles.

Why is it so easy for these sites to exist? Obviously the writer was able to send them messages "seeking comment?" The sad truth is it is far too easy to set up rogue sites, and all we need do is look at the volume of "phishing" activity that is out there. Whether they set up with foreign IPS providers, or hack into an existing site, they seem to have no problem getting a Internet address.

They have stolen so much information, it has become pretty cheap on these "carding" sites. In fact, they are becoming so brazen; they are now selling "how to kits" with everything a "budding" fraudster needs to get started.

With 82 million identities floating around (the amount compromised recently), it shouldn't surprise us that our "identities and personal information" are so cheap. Quite simply, there is a surplus of information out there for sale.

For an interesting article from the Washington Post on how cheap our information is being sold for, link here.

Eastern European organized crime is a worldwide issue and they aren't only involved in cyber crime. They are also involved in guns, prostitution, extortion, car theft, black market, drugs and the "human flesh" trade.

Here are some interesting statistics from the United Nations:

"The number of known criminal groups in Russia increased between 1990 and 1997 from 785 to an astronomical 9,000, with a combined membership of more than 100,000, according to the country's Interior Ministry. In Moscow, some 189 criminal organizations were active in 1996, of which 23 had branches abroad."

"The Ministry estimates that about 40,000 Russian businesses are controlled by organized crime. Among these are law firms, banks and other businesses that can launder money. Many have global links."

In another UN report about Russian Organized Crime in the United States, it said:

"Russians have recently become the principal purveyors of credit card fraud in the U.S., supplanting the West Africans."

It appears that cyber crime isn't the only thing they are involved in that is a threat to human decency. Sadly enough, some of the greatest victims are their own citizens - many of whom - are sold into slavery in some of this criminal activity.

There is also increasing evidence of collusion amongst the various organized crime factions of the world, and some say terrorist factions. Al Qaida teaches it's minions to survive via credit card fraud. Recently, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) made a pretty good argument for this.

With the sheer amount of data breaches and evidence of the information being sold (pretty cheaply) over the Internet, a financial disaster could be in the making. It also seems that whenever it is traced, it goes back (largely) to Eastern Europe.

I decided to check out the recent (highly publicized) arrest, where 565 cyber criminals were caught and discovered that none of the arrests, or law enforcement support seem to come from these Eastern European countries.

Since I'm certain that this is not because of a lack of effort on the part of law enforcement, perhaps we would make greater headway if our politicians took some action. If Eastern European governments are failing to cooperate, maybe our governments should put some "economic" sanctions in place designed to make them see the "light."

Ironically enough, 26.5 million veterans, many of whom trained to protect us from a perceived threat from this part of the world during the "Cold War," might be having their identities sold (cheaply) over some of these "carding" sites somewhere in the near future.

My message to Eastern Europe is that they need to stop exporting their problems to the rest of us and should they fail to do so, we should exercise our combined political voice to stop their personal attack on millions of innocent people.

1 comment:

T.L. Stanley said...

Good post. Thanks for keeping us posted about the Russian organized crime situation. Take care.