[ISN] FBI steps up pursuit of cybercrime

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Thu Sep 25 2003 - 02:02:06 PDT

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    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wk@private>
    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    Sept. 23, 2003   
    MILWAUKEE, Wis. - (KRT) - Barry J. Fibiger of Sheboygan, Wis., came 
    face to face with police on the waterfront in Virginia Beach, Va.
    According to a court document quoting law enforcement officials, 
    Fibiger was "soft-spoken, cooperative and polite" when they confronted 
    him beside the ocean in October 2002. He was "very calm and spoke very 
    softly" and didn't struggle when they took him into custody.
    Fibiger, 35, told police he'd come to Virginia to kill himself. In a 
    suicide note left behind in Wisconsin, Fibiger had willed his computer 
    to his father. He'd used the Dell 8200 in ways that had gotten him 
    indicted on federal charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and 
    The charges against Fibiger were the result of a recent national 
    crackdown on Internet fraud known as "Operation E-Con," initiated by 
    Attorney General John Ashcroft.
    Over the past three years, consumer fraud cases involving the Internet 
    have increased steadily, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 
    2002, nearly half of the 218,000 fraud complaints received by the FTC 
    were Internet-related.
    In Wisconsin, four FBI agents in Milwaukee and six others throughout 
    the state make up a cybercrime squad whose sole purpose is battling 
    online bad guys.
    They recently received a grant from the national FBI headquarters to 
    form a cyber task force here, which will consist of members from 
    federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The task force will 
    allow computer criminals to be investigated and prosecuted more 
    efficiently and is expected to be up and running by the end of the 
    year, said FBI Special Agent Matt Petersen.
    "This thing is growing by leaps and bounds. We're constantly 
    recruiting people with computer skills," said FBI Special Agent 
    Michael Johnson, who is in charge of the specialized squad.
    Fibiger has pleaded guilty to four federal felonies and is scheduled 
    to be sentenced next month. He faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 
    years in prison and fines of $1 million.
    Federal officials first zeroed in on Fibiger due to a referral from 
    the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a national Department of Justice 
    clearinghouse that tracks complaints and refers them to the 
    appropriate authorities.
    Prosecutors say he set up several online stores. There, he advertised 
    Palm Pilots, hand-held computers and other electronic equipment. 
    Consumers placed orders and sent payment through the online services 
    PayPal and PayByCheck, but they never received the merchandise, 
    according to court documents.
    Cases such as Fibiger's are just the tip of the iceberg, Johnson said.
    "There's now crime over the Internet that didn't exist 10 years ago," 
    he said.
    One of the most common types is computer intrusion. Some people guilty 
    of this offense have legitimate reasons to be working within a system 
    but overstep their bounds. Some - such as Chad Davis - aren't entitled 
    to access but create it for themselves, anyway.
    Davis, a follower of convicted computer felon Joseph Konopka, dubbed 
    "Dr. Chaos," hacked into the U.S. Army's computer system, Petersen 
    said. There, he defaced the Web site to let people know it had been 
    cracked by "Mindfazer," his nickname. He also went to other servers to 
    look at personnel and other records, Petersen said.
    The investigation into Davis' crimes began with log files, computer 
    records of who comes into the system and when. Most hackers know how 
    to hide their presence by modifying these files. But the Army had a 
    second set in place, which was operated by a different server. Davis 
    didn't know about the backup log files, so he didn't erase himself 
    from them, Petersen said.
    The log files led authorities back to a Green Bay, Wis., Internet 
    service provider. Davis, who lived in the area, became a suspect 
    because he already was under investigation for prior computer crimes, 
    Petersen said. His name wasn't attached to an account at the Green Bay 
    company, so authorities placed him under surveillance. They spotted 
    him "Dumpster diving" in the alley behind the business and later 
    learned he had retrieved e-mail addresses, passwords and other client 
    information from the trash.
    A review of phone records revealed Davis' telephone number attached to 
    the account of a bowling alley called Mr. Ten Pin. He had accessed the 
    Internet at the exact same time the Army Web site had been 
    compromised, Petersen said.
    FBI agents served a search warrant, then arrested Davis, now 23. He 
    confessed a few days later, Petersen said. He later pleaded guilty to 
    one count of computer fraud and was sentenced to six months in prison 
    and three years of supervised release.
    Davis' main motivations were mischief and bragging rights, Petersen 
    said. But other computer criminals have more nefarious motives. Some 
    seek out personal identification, then use it to get credit cards in 
    the names of unwitting consumers.
    Some make their way into computer-based corporate telephone systems 
    and make thousands of dollars in long-distance calls. Some trade in 
    child pornography.
    "We get a lot of complaints from ex-girlfriends," Johnson said. "Or we 
    seize the computer for some other reason and find this stuff."
    Petersen, who analyzes the hard drives of every computer seized in a 
    Milwaukee FBI case, said he spends 40 percent to 60 percent of his 
    time on child pornography investigations. The state Division of 
    Criminal Investigation also focuses substantial energy on them, 
    Johnson said.
    Computer crimes of every type pose numerous challenges for law 
    enforcement, Petersen said. Some businesses turn off log files, not 
    knowing they can be among an investigator's best resources. Those that 
    are activated re-write themselves every 30 days to save space on the 
    hard drive, so authorities always are working against the clock. Some 
    people take over numerous systems before they cause trouble, and it's 
    hard to trace where the hacker began. Cybercrime investigations also 
    tend to be solitary pursuits, leaving an agent alone with a hard 
    drive, a list of phone records or a file of computer code.
    The cybercrime problem isn't going away anytime soon.
    "The trend is that it's increasing. It's gaining in notoriety," 
    Petersen said.
    To protect yourself against computer crime:
    DO Change factory preset passwords Shred documents containing personal 
    information before throwing them away Obtain copies of your credit 
    report periodically to check for unauthorized charges
    DON'T Give out personal information in response to a pop-up ad Give 
    out personal information over wireless services or cordless phones 
    Give out bank account numbers or send money to someone you "meet" in a 
    chat room or via e-mail
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
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