[ISN] State of Alert Evident At CyberCrime Session

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Feb 11 2003 - 22:25:15 PST

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    By Mark Harrington
    February 11, 2003
    Mashantucket, Conn. - Robert Weaver was barking about the need for
    increased cooperation between business and law enforcement to choke
    cyberterrorism when a Connecticut state trooper with a bomb-sniffing
    dog entered the conference room and walked its perimeter.
    "Anything we need to know about?" asked Weaver, special agent in
    charge at the U.S. Secret Service's New York crimes electronic task
    force. The trooper shook his head, finished his rounds and left.
    Reminders about the heightened state of alert - officially orange -
    were everywhere yesterday at the annual CyberCrime 2003 conference.  
    Each year hundreds of government computer specialists descend on this
    northern Connecticut gaming town to talk about everything from
    tracking down hackers to computer forensics.
    It was evident from the moment the conference began, when attendees
    were told Sunday's two high-level keynote speakers couldn't attend
    because of heightened security concerns in Washington and New York.
    One of them, Jerome Hauer, director of the office of public health
    preparedness at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
    didn't help matters when he shared the latest intelligence via
    speakerphone. "We've been round the clock here since Thursday," he
    said. "Intelligence continues to tell us we continue to see an
    imminent threat to the U.S. These groups are not happy with our
    potential interest in [war with] Iraq ... Their philosophy is to kill
    as many of us as they can."
    Intelligence from Algerian nationals in Britain indicated Al-Qaida
    remains "very interested" in poisons, chemical agents and nerve agents
    and there are concerns about the potential use of a "large explosive
    device," Hauer said.
    More on point for the somber techies, however, was the expectation
    that a computer-based attack likely would play a role in the war.  
    Hauer said the government has taken note of the computer war that has
    raged between the Palestinians and Israelis. "The Palestinians tried
    to do everything they could to undermine Israeli computers," he said,
    noting the Israelis countered by electronically spreading
    disinformation about its operations. He expects much of the same in
    this country. Terrorists are "very interested in getting into our
    computers to cause economic disruption."
    Not surprisingly, the techniques for intrusion are more powerful, more
    widespread and more insidious than ever.
    Jonathan Rusch, special counsel for fraud prevention at the U.S.  
    Department of Justice, said electronic thieves have gone multimedia,
    devising schemes that involve use of several complementary
    In one such case prosecuted last year, two Russian hackers armed with
    a database of 50,000 credit card users wrote software that created new
    e-mail addresses for a battalion of bidders and sellers, who were then
    programmed to conduct tens of thousands of bogus transactions on a
    popular auction site.
    Payments using the stolen credit card numbers were transferred to an
    online payment site, where the thieves collected the booty.
    On an optimistic note, law enforcement is getting smarter about
    tracking, prosecuting and sometimes even preventing online treachery.
    Lisa Friel, chief of the sex crimes prosecution unit at the Manhattan
    District Attorney's office, recounted an early misstep in prosecuting
    Internet-related crime. Police arrested a man accused of raping a
    woman he'd enticed to New York through an e-mail correspondence. The
    arrest was made without securing or even observing the e-mail
    messages, which later revealed that the woman hadn't been truthful.
    Now, Friel said, police and prosecutors know the importance of seizing
    and securing evidence on hard drives early on, how to garner evidence
    from Internet service providers and how not to tip off a potential
    offender to the presence of an investigation.
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