[ISN] Hacker Gurus Recruit Unsuspecting Youth

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 12 2002 - 01:00:53 PDT

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    Forwarded from: "eric wolbrom, CISSP" <ericat_private>
    Ottawa Citizen, 6/6/02
    Sophisticated online "mentors" are helping unsuspecting young people
    cause serious damage to personal computers, says an RCMP report.
    Hackers: a Canadian Police Perspective, says hacking gurus are taking
    advantage of curious young people, swaying them to try their hand at
    hacking and virus-writing. Mentors are distributing virus-writing and
    hacking software on more than 30,000 Web sites.
    But the report warns that the most dangerous aspect is the potential
    for a mentor to use inexperienced Internet users to accomplish
    political or terrorist-minded goals. "The novice hackers may gather
    information for individuals with malicious intent, for example to
    blackmail, or to profit financially or politically.
    The motivations of Internet mentors are largely unknown to Canadian
    police at this time," says the report. The most famous example of a
    young Internet wannabe hacker using a mentor's tool kit is Mafiaboy, a
    Montreal teen who crashed numerous high-profile Web sites using a
    mentor's malicious software.
    There are likely more Mafiaboy kid hackers out there, the report says.
    Although there's little evidence that shows young hackers are being
    harnessed by terrorists and organized crime, it's only a matter of
    time, the report says. The online software, or tool-kits, allow people
    to write malicious code almost as easily as creating a Microsoft Word
    Hackers are using the software to write new variants of viruses, such
    as Klez or Code Red, or hack into a computer network without realizing
    how much damage their actions may actually cause.  "It's like mischief
    by a kid who sets a small fire and doesn't realize he is going to burn
    the whole house down," said Sgt. Paul Poloz, a member of the RCMP's
    high-tech crime forensics unit. "He tries it and all of a sudden,
    boom, the whole network has been brought down."
    Computer viruses cost global business more than $13 billion U.S. in
    2001, according to the economic analysts Computer Economics of
    Carlsbad, California.
    Hacking and virus-writing has been made popular in books and films
    such as The Matrix, Hackers and Swordfish.  Many teens, looking to
    mimic what they see in popular culture, join underground hacking
    groups and quickly realize a mentor's toolkits are the easiest way to
    break into the world of hacking.  "Mafiaboy downloaded software right
    off the Internet without really understanding the capabilities he had
    at his fingertips," said Dan Verton, author of The Hacker Diaries:
    Confessions of Teenage Hackers. "That was a software program that was
    written by a much more sophisticated hacker based in Germany."
    The RCMP's report says "unsophisticated or novice hackers" often lack
    a sense of responsibility.  "They are unaware of the capabilities of
    the hacker tools they use, unaware of the implications of their
    hacking or unconcerned about the consequences of their actions."  
    "You could take the analogy of the big-time drug dealer that gives his
    cocaine and other things to the young offender," Sgt. Poloz said.
    "You've got the hacker genius who gives his stuff to the younger kids,
    and if the kids get caught, there are not a lot of repercussions."
    Mr. Verton said almost all of the 14 hackers profiled in his book were
    introduced to the world of hacking by a mentor.  "I think it is
    becoming more and more of a problem," he said. "The Internet is the
    biggest library in the world. You can spend the better part of a year
    sifting through all of the hacker information that you can find,
    including freely available downloadable tools."  Michael Murphy,
    Canadian general manager of the anti-virus and Internet security firm
    Symantec Corp., said so far computer users have been very "lucky"
    because Internet viruses have not lived up to their full, damaging
    Before long, virus writers will be able to merge the worst qualities
    of viruses such as Nimda, Code Red, Melissa and the Love Bug to form a
    franken-virus capable of damaging computer hard drives and
    distributing mass amounts of personal information to various sources.  
    "If you took the most malicious components (of each virus out there)
    then you are looking at a threat that would be very severe in its
    damage," he said.
    In a bid to address some of these issues, the federal government
    announced last month it will soon introduce new legislation to attack
    the problem of cybercrime.
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