[ISN] Internet banks 'in denial' on hacking thefts

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 12:31:11 PDT

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    Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    Thursday April 19, 2001
    The Guardian
    At least four large internet banks in Britain have been attacked by
    computer hackers, it emerged yesterday at the launch of a national
    police unit to tackle cybercrime.
    It is believed that in each case at least hundreds of thousands of
    pounds was stolen, but the banks concerned have been reluctant to
    report the thefts for fear it will damage the credibility of banking
    Police officers involved in operations aimed at breaking up organised
    crime say that they have tracked several hackers who have made
    successful attacks on the internet banks - despite the banks' denials.
    Bill Hughes, the director general of the national crime squad,
    explained the reticence to report attacks: "When businesses say they
    are not being 'hacked' they are not telling the truth.
    "Everyone has been attacked. It is how businesses deal with it that is
    the question. As soon as they realise it is not bad for business, and
    we can do something about it, they will acknowledge it."
    Tracking down the cyber robbers who forge credit card details and
    other electronic identities to break into internet banks is just one
    of the tasks of the specialist police unit. To begin with the unit has
    40 officers housed in a "semi-covert location" in central London. The
    unit will eventually have a further 40 officers in regional forces
    when it is fully operational in two to three years.
    At its launch yesterday, the home secretary, Jack Straw, said 25m over
    three years was to be spent on countering cybercrime.
    "Technology is already changing the way criminals operate," said Mr
    "They look for the highest return with the least risk, and in an age
    where society and business are reaping the rewards and benefits of new
    technology, there is a massive opportunity for organised crime to
    exploit those new technologies.
    "Looking to the future the equation is simple - money is going
    electronic; and where the money goes, so will organised crime."
    The unit's launch was at the Science Museum, in London, to coincide
    with an exhibition there on cybercrime. The exhibition features a
    Welsh teenager accused of downloading 20,000 credit card numbers from
    the net, and the hijack of the Nike.com website by anti-corporate
    The unit's head, Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, said
    yesterday that a growing illicit subculture existed, intent on fraud,
    extortion, money laundering, paedophilia and race hate, as well as
    newer crimes such as hacking.
    The unit will have investigative officers, forensic experts, computer
    consultants and support staff to investigate serious and organised
    crime. Mr Hynds claimed that it would prove a milestone in policing.
    Officers would neither spend their time in patrolling the internet nor
    in reading emails, he said: "There is no intention for us to randomly
    intercept and read people's emails. We lack the inclination, the
    capability or the legal power to do so."
    Email interception requires a warrant that has been personally signed
    by the home secretary.
    However, Mr Straw confirmed that internet service providers would be
    expected to keep what were termed "communication details" of their
    customers' accounts so that the police could track their email
    recipients and the sites they have visited.
    John Wadham, director of Liberty, the civil rights organisation, said:
    "We welcome the creation of the unit, but we think at the same time
    they should introduce strong safeguards to ensure people's privacy on
    the internet is protected - unless there is a strong suspicion that
    they are involved in crime."
    The police identify three types of hackers. Recreational hackers do
    little more than gain unauthorised access. The criminal minded range
    from those who make unauthorised money transfers, to vandals who
    sabotage websites. The third are political "hactivists" such as those
    who placed anti-nuclear messages on hundreds of websites.
    Viruses and other malicious programmes
    200 new viruses are identified each month.
    Software piracy
    The illegal copying and resale of software programmes including music
    and video.
    Includes credit card fraud and scams given a new lease of life on the
    net, such as pyramid schemes.
    Harassment, threats and hate sites
    This includes "cyber-stalking", blackmail by email, and issuing hit
    lists such as that in the US naming 200 abortion doctors and
    pro-choice judges and politicians.
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