[ISN] Federal Cybercrime Unit Hunts for Hackers

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 06:31:49 PDT

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    [Moderator: This article will be going on the Errata site soon. This
     contains a wide variety of errors regarding the role and actions of John
     Vranesevich and AntiOnline. Mr. Richtel chose to believe JV at face
     value, and apparently did not challenge anything he said.]
    June 2, 1999
    Federal Cybercrime Unit Hunts for Hackers
    Raids by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week against
    several suspected computer hackers are part of a new Government cybercrime
    unit's crackdown against illegal tampering with computer networks and Web
    sites, a Federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
    The raids prompted a counteroffensive in which disparate hacker groups
    took responsibility for bringing down additional corporate and Government
    sites, including the F.B.I.'s public information site.
    The events escalated a longstanding game of tit-for-tat between pranksters
    using personal computers and a newly galvanized Federal police force stung
    by recent attacks on some of the Government's high-level Web sites.
    Paul E. Coggins, the United States Attorney in Dallas who is overseeing
    the effort, said yesterday that Federal prosecutors had issued 16 warrants
    in 12 jurisdictions after a yearlong investigation, but had not yet
    charged anyone with a crime.
    The investigation is part of the Government's new, Dallas-based cybercrime
    task force, which includes the F.B.I., the Secret Service, the United
    States Attorney's Office and the Defense Department, Coggins said.
    "It's probably the most far-reaching investigation of its kind," he said.
    "It's an investigation with national and international implications."
    Coggins declined to elaborate or to say whether the targets of the
    investigation were considered to be part of a conspiracy.
    Don K. Clark, a special F.B.I. agent in Houston, said the activities under
    investigation included stealing and misusing credit card numbers and
    computer passwords.
    Two of those who were raided by the bureau's agents last Wednesday said
    one connection between some of the targets was that they knew one another
    from various discussion groups in an Internet chat forum called Internet
    Relay Chat. The participants said that the talk sometimes revolved around
    hacking techniques but that they were not involved in any general hacking
    conspiracy with other members of the discussion groups.
    "I have never defaced any Web pages or taken out any major sites," said
    Paul Maidman, 18, of Waldwick, N.J., one of those who were raided. 
    Referring to proprietary computer systems, he said: "I got into other
    servers. I'd look around, read some E-mail, and that would be it."
    Maidman said he was awakened last Wednesday morning by five or six armed
    F.B.I. agents surrounding a living room couch where he slept. He said the
    agents confiscated a computer, some diskettes, CD-ROM's and other computer
    Two Internet service providers have also received requests for
    documentation in connection with the case. The requests, parts of which
    have been posted on the Internet, seek information about dozens of
    hackers, hacker groups and software used by hackers.
    John Vranesevich, who operates the Anti-Online Web site, which chronicles
    hacker activity, said the information requested from Internet service
    providers involved software tools, computer files and aliases pertaining
    to hacker activities.
    Vranesevich said several of the aliases actually represented software
    programs called "bots," which are posted in chat rooms as automated
    monitors but may have been mistaken by F.B.I. agents for human
    "Anything that has to do with hackers they're going after," he said. "I'm
    not going to call this a witch hunt, but it's an uninformed
    Meanwhile, hacker groups continued attacks on corporate and Government
    computers, in some cases making sites inaccessible and, in others, taking
    over sites with their own messages, some of them profane. The F.B.I. site,
    taken down last week, remained inaccessible yesterday.
    One hacker group, which calls itself F0rpaxe, says it is based in Portugal
    and takes responsibility for "massive attacks" on various Web sites, sent
    a statement to Anti-Online saying, "If the F.B.I. doesn't stop we won't,
    and we can start destroying."
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