Hackers in the service of cybercrime, a concerning trend

Pierluigi Paganini October 23, 2013

Hackers are becoming a precious category of professionals also for organized crime, their effort is creating even more problems for law enforcement.

A hacker illegally gained access to 60,000 servers worldwide and used them for large scam, the systems have been abused for online shopping with a stolen foreign credit card number. This time it is happening in the civil Finland, but similar crimes are daily committed all over the world, criminal gangs composed by young hackers that abandoned the myth of “romantic hacker” to aggregate them self into criminal gangs able to operate with a great efficiency in every part of the globe.

In a recent article I described the importance of the role of the hacker for IT community, on the other side there is a huge quantity of youngsters that are attracted by easy money, by the prospective to be rich committing cybercrimes … Yes because there is the wrong perception that cybercrime goes unpunished, and unfortunately this is partially true due different law framework in the world and the difficulty of “attribution” for the illegal acts.

Currently just a single man has been identified as responsible for the fraud, the hacker in fact has been arrested in Helsinki on charges of illegal accessing of 60,000 servers worldwide, data breach, means-of-payment offense and interference with data communications. It’s clear that this guy is not alone, probably he is part of an international hacking network confirming how is changing the figure of the hacker.

The computer security incident response team of Finland’s Communications Regulatory Authority has immediately analyzed many hacked servers. Law enforcement discovered 3000 foreign credit card info on the hacker’s computer used for online purchases.

The identification of the suspect has been possible thanks a joint investigation with the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, these cyber alliances are the unique way to fight the cybercrime, the principal obstacle to the persecution of criminal activities in the cyberspace is non-uniformity of national law frameworks.

Another fresh news regarding criminal hacking has just been proposed by the security portal The Hacker News, a group named ‘TeamBerserk‘ claimed that, they have stolen $100,000 by leveraging user names and passwords taken from a California ISP Sebastian (Sebastiancorp.com) to access victims’ bank accounts.

The cybercriminals have published a video to demonstrate how they have used a SQL injection attack against the California ISP Sebastian to access their customers’ database. The attackers obtained e-mail addresses and user credentials reused to steal money from banking accounts of the customers.
Since now I have introduced purely cybercriminal activities, but another concerning trend is the collaboration of criminal organization with expert hackers. According a recent post on the BBC the

Head of Europe’s crime fighting agency has warned of the growing risk of organized crime groups using cyber-attacks to allow them to traffic drugs.

The director of Europol, Rob Wainwright confirmed the dangerous alliance, the internet is being used to facilitate the international drug trafficking business.

The investigation on a cyber-attack on the Belgian port of Antwerp allowed law enforcement to discover that drug traffickers recruited hackers to hack IT systems that controlled the movement and location of containers.

“Police carried out a series of raids in Belgium and Holland earlier this year, seizing computer-hacking equipment as well as large quantities of cocaine and heroin, guns and a suitcase full of cash. Fifteen people are currently awaiting trial in the two countries. Mr Wainwright says the alleged plot demonstrates how the internet is being used as a “freelance marketplace” in which drug trafficking groups recruit hackers to help them carry out cyber-attacks “to order”.  “[The case] is an example of how organized crime is becoming more enterprising, especially online,” he says.

cybercrime hackers equipment

The Europol official confirmed that organized crime groups are paying for specialist hacking skills that they can acquire online, the attacks are the proof of a collaboration that started at least 2 years ago. Dutch-based trafficking group hid cocaine and heroin among legitimate cargoes, including timber and bananas shipped in containers from South America, the role of hackers based in Belgium was to infiltrate computer networks in at least two companies operating in the port of Antwerp to access secure data giving them the location and security details of containers.

meaning the traffickers could send in lorry drivers to steal the cargo before the legitimate owner arrived.”

The example provided are significant to understand how cyber experts could help crime in illegal activities, the only way to prevent their attacks is starting to think with the mind of a hacker, if crime became “cybercrime” also the police have to respond with “cyber cops”.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  hackers, cybercrime, hacking)

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