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How to catch a cyber thief

Ellen Messmer | March 2, 2012
They're out there, says security researchers: the Chinese hackers attempting to break into U.S. enterprises, and jihadist terrorists that brazenly post videos of sniper killings, while stealing credit-cards to launder money for funding nefarious campaigns in Mideast or Caucasus hot spots.

One of the biggest cases linking Islamic terrorists to high-tech operations like stealing credit cards through botnets that controlled thousands of victims' computers was that of London-based Tariq Al-Daour, sentenced a number of years ago after his gang was caught playing at the Absolute Poker site with stolen credit cards, mainly to launder $3.5 million in poker games, says Hypponen. He spent the money he stole on satellite phones, sleeping bags and lot of other gear he sent to support terrorist activity connected to Al Qaeda. He paid a Russian to build his software, Hypponen noted.

The situation today with extremist groups using high-tech hacking and bots "isn't out of hand," Hyponnen says. But there's mounting evidence that extremist groups are increasingly interested in high-tech, writing in their slick multimedia online publications about Apache, PGP, NMAP, and creating their own public crypto keys, right alongside instructions for bomb-building. He says it may be time to pay more attention to it.


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