Forwarded from: "eric wolbrom, CISSP" <ericat_private> http://www.ds-osac.org/edb/cyber/news/story.cfm?KEY=8262 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 document. 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 potential. 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. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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