[ISN] Detectives in the Digital Age

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Apr 19 1999 - 12:48:57 PDT

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    From: William Knowles <erehwonat_private>
    Detectives in the Digital Age
    3:00 a.m.  19.Apr.99.PDT
    A computer virus writer with the stolen America Online user name "Sky
    Roket"  turns up on a computer bulletin board in Norway and is arrested in
    New Jersey. A North Carolina computer engineer using an anonymous Web site
    service is linked to a stock hoax in California. 
    Cybersleuths are catching perpetrators of hoaxes and malicious acts on the
    Internet more quickly, helped by growing cooperation between the online
    industry and law enforcement agents. 
    "We're getting past the age of denial," said Richard Powers of Computer
    Security Institute in San Francisco. "People are realizing there's a
    problem and that we have to work on it together." 
    But even after a string of high-profile takedowns of alleged Web
    criminals, the security experts championed as the Sam Spades of the
    digital age are warning about the future. 
    Computer crime is growing, and smart criminals are avoiding prosecution,
    they say. Computer Security Institute surveys show that over the past
    year, "online intrusions" doubled as a percentage of computer crime. 
    The reason it's happening, say the computer experts, is "that's where the
    money is." 
    "Now that e-commerce is coming online and getting bigger and bigger, the
    fraud and criminal activity that used to be committed with fax and phone
    is moving onto the Internet," said George Vinson, a former FBI cybercrime
    unit member who is now with Deloitte & Touche's computer security
    The experts say their search for perpetrators has gotten a boost from some
    less-than-clever methods used by hackers and hoaxters. 
    For example, David Smith, the 30-year-old New Jersey man charged with
    creating Melissa "actually signed his name to some of the online documents
    he created," noted Richard Smith, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based
    cybersleuth who was credited with the key breaks in cracking the Melissa
    The Melissa virus disrupted and crashed some e-mail and computer networks
    at thousands of companies and government agencies by overloading their
    systems.  Smith, who was charged last week with violating an array of New
    Jersey computer laws, faces up to US$480,000 in fines if convicted. 
    Cyberleuth Smith, who works for software company Phar Lap, found clues
    when he tracked the online postings linked to the suspect. 
    "David Smith was a very good macro virus writer, but not a terribly good
    hacker," said security expert Michael Zboray of Gartner Group. "He could
    have done a much better job of covering his path. The next time this
    happens it might not be so easy." 
    Perpetrators of cybercrimes have felt safe in the anonymity of cyberspace. 
    But Internet service providers are growing more eager to hand over user
    logs in criminal investigations. And investigators are becoming better at
    searching the scenes of virtual crimes for clues to a perpetrator's
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