Introduction to Cyber Crime
The first recorded cyber crime took place in the year 1820! That is not surprising considering the fact that the abacus, which is thought to be the earliest form of a computer, has been around since 3500 B.C. in India, Japan and China. The era of modern computers, however, began with the analytical engine of Charles Babbage. Cyber crime is an evil having its origin in the growing dependence on computers in modern life. In a day and age when everything from microwave ovens and refrigerators to nuclear power plants is being run on computers, cyber crime has assumed rather sinister implications. Major cyber crimes in the recent past include the Citibank rip off. US $ 10 million were fraudulently transferred out of the bank and into a bank account in Switzerland. A Russian hacker group led by Vladimir Kevin, a renowned hacker, perpetrated the attack. The group compromised the bank's security systems. Vladimir was allegedly using his office computer at AO Saturn, a computer firm in St. Petersburg, Russia, to break into Citibank computers. He was finally arrested on Heathrow airport on his way to Switzerland.
What is a Computer Crime?
a. Criminals Can Operate Anonymously Over the Computer Networks.
1. Be careful about talking to "strangers" on a computer network. Who are these people anyway? Remember that people online may not be who they seem at first. Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are: Suggestive of something improper or indecent; Obscene, filthy, or offensive to accepted standards of decency; Belligerent, hostile, combative, very aggressive; and Threaten to do harm or danger towards you or another
2. Tell a grown-up right away if you come across any information that makes you feel uncomfortable.
3. Do not give out any sensitive or personal information about you or your family in an Internet "chat room." Be sure that you are dealing with someone you and your parents know and trust before giving out any personal information about yourself via e-mail.
4. Never arrange a face-to-face meeting without telling your parents or guardians. If your parent or guardian agrees to the meeting, you should meet in a public place and have a parent or guardian go with you.
b. Hackers Invade Privacy
1. Define a hacker - A hacker is someone who breaks into computers sometimes to read private e-mails and other files.
2. What is your privacy worth?
What information about you or your parents do you think should be considered private? For example, medical information, a diary, your grades, how much money your parents owe, how much money your family has in a savings account or in a home safe, and your letters to a friend.
Would this kind of invasion of your privacy be any different than someone breaking into your school locker or your house to get this information about you and your family?
c. Hackers Destroy "Property" in the Form of Computer Files or Records.
1. Hackers delete or alter files.
2. When you write something, like a term paper or report, how important is it to be able to find it again? Would this be different if someone broke into your locker and stole your term paper?
3. How important is it that data in computers like your term paper, a letter, your bank records, and medical records, not be altered? How important is it for a drug company or a pharmacy to not have its computer files altered or deleted by hackers? What would happen if a hacker altered the chemical formulas for prescription drugs, or the flight patterns and other data in air traffic control computers? What does the term "tamper" mean? To interfere in a harmful way or to alter improperly.Is tampering with computer files different from tampering that occurs on paper files or records?
d. Hackers Injure Other Computer Users by Destroying Information Systems
1. Hackers cause victims to spend time and money checking and re-securing systems after break-in. They also cause them to interrupt service. They think it's fine to break-in and snoop in other people's files as long as they don't alter anything. They think that no harm has been done.
2. Hackers steal telephone and computer time and share unauthorized access codes and passwords. Much of the stealing is very low-tech. "Social engineering" is a term used among crackers for cracking techniques that rely on weaknesses in human beings rather than on software. "Dumpster diving" is the practice of sifting refuse from an office or technical
installation to extract confidential data, especially security compromising information. Who do you think pays for this? How much stealing of computer time do you think there is? For example, there is $2 billion annually in telephone toll fraud alone. Would you want someone going through your garbage? Have you ever thrown away private papers or personal notes?
3. Hackers crash systems that cause them to malfunction and not work. How do we use computer information systems in our daily lives? What could happen if computers suddenly stopped working? For example, would public health and safety be disrupted and lives be endangered if computers went down?
e. Computer "Pirates" Steal Intellectual Property
1. Intellectual property is the physical expression of ideas contained in books, music, plays, movies, and computer software. Computer pirates steal valuable property when they copy software, music, graphics/pictures, movies, books (all available on the Internet).
How is the person who produced or developed these forms of entertainment harmed? Is this different from stealing a product (computer hardware) which someone has invented and manufactured? Who pays for this theft?
2. It may seem simple and safe to copy recordings, movies and computer programs by installing a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software program. However, most material that you may want to copy is protected by copyright which means that you are restricted from making copies unless you have permission to do so. Making copies of intellectual propertyincluding music, movies and software--without the right to do so is illegal. P2P software and the files traded on the P2P networks may
also harm your computer by installing viruses or spy ware, or allow others to access the files contained on your hard drive beyond those you intend to share.
3. Copyright violations have civil and criminal remedies.
a.) Civil remedy: copyright holder can sue infringer for money to cover loss of sales or other loss caused by infringement.
b.) Criminal remedy: jail or fine paid to the government (not copyright holder) where person infringes a copyright for commercial advantage or private gain. For example, a person who makes multiple copies of a video, and sell the copies.
Defining Cyber Crime
Defining cyber crimes, as "acts that are punishable by the Information Technology Act" would be unsuitable as the Indian Penal Code also covers many cyber crimes, such as email spoofing and cyber defamation, sending threatening emails etc. A simple yet sturdy definition of cyber crime would be "unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both".
This would include cheating, credit card frauds, money laundering etc. To cite a recent case, a website offered to sell Alphonso mangoes at a throwaway price. Distrusting such a transaction, very few people responded to or supplied the website with their credit card numbers. These people were actually sent the Alphonso mangoes. The word about this website now spread like wildfire. Thousands of people from all over the country responded and ordered mangoes by providing their credit card numbers. The owners of what was later proven to be a bogus website then fled taking the numerous credit card numbers and proceeded to spend huge amounts of money much to the chagrin of the card owners.
This would include pornographic websites; pornographic magazines produced using computers (to publish and print the material) and the Internet (to download and transmit pornographic pictures, photos, writings etc). Recent Indian incidents revolving around cyber pornography include the Air Force Balbharati School case. A student of the Air Force Balbharati School, Delhi, was teased by all his classmates for having a pockmarked face. Tired of the cruel jokes, he decided to
get back at his tormentors. He scanned photographs of his classmates and teachers, morphed them with nude photographs and put them up on a website that he uploaded on to a free web hosting service. It was only after the father of one of the class girls featured on the website objected and lodged a complaint with the police that any action was taken.
In another incident, in Mumbai a Swiss couple would gather slum children and then would force them to appear for obscene photographs. They would then upload these photographs to websites specially designed for paedophiles. The Mumbai police arrested the couple for pornography.
Sale of illegal articles
This would include sale of narcotics, weapons and wildlife etc., by posting information on websites, auction websites, and bulletin boards or 167 simply by using email communication. E.g. many of the auction sites even in India are believed to be selling cocaine in the name of 'honey'.
There are millions of websites; all hosted on servers abroad, that offer online gambling. In fact, it is believed that many of these websites are actually fronts for money laundering.
Intellectual Property crimes
These include software piracy, copyright infringement, trademarks violations, theft of computer source code etc.
A spoofed email is one that appears to originate from one source but actually has been sent from another source. E.g. Pooja has an e-mail address email@example.com. Her enemy, Sameer spoofs her e-mail and sends obscene messages to all her acquaintances. Since the e-mails appear to have originated from Pooja, her friends could take offence and relationships could be spoiled for life. Email spoofing can also cause monetary damage. In an American case, a teenager made millions of dollars by spreading false information about certain companies whose shares he had short sold. This misinformation
was spread by sending spoofed emails, purportedly from news agencies like Reuters, to share brokers and investors who were informed that the companies were doing very badly. Even after the truth came out the values of the shares did not go back to the earlier levels and thousandsof investors lost a lot of money.
Counterfeit currency notes, postage and revenue stamps, mark sheets etc can be forged using sophisticated computers, printers and scanners. Outside many colleges across India, one finds touts soliciting the sale of fake mark sheets or even certificates. These are made using computers, and high quality scanners and printers. In fact, this has becoming a
booming business involving thousands of Rupees being given to student gangs in exchange for these bogus but authentic looking certificates.
This occurs when defamation takes place with the help of computers and / or the Internet. E.g. someone publishes defamatory matter about someone on a website or sends e-mails containing defamatory information to all
of that person's friends. In a recent occurrence, Surekha (names of people have been changed), a young girl was about to be married to Suraj. She was really pleased because despite it being an arranged marriage, she had liked the boy. He
had seemed to be open-minded and pleasant. Then, one day when she met Suraj, he looked worried and even a little upset. He was not really interested in talking to her. When asked he told her that, members of his family had been receiving e-mails that contained malicious things about Surekha's character. Some of them spoke of affairs, which she had had in the past. He told her 168 that, his parents were justifiably very upset and were also considering breaking off the engagement. Fortunately, Suraj was able to prevail upon his parents and the other elders of his house to approach the police instead of blindly believing what was contained in the mails. During investigation, it was revealed that the person sending those e-mails was none other than Surekha's stepfather. He had sent these e-mails so as to break up the marriage. The girl's marriage would have caused him to lose control of her property of which he was the guardian till she got married. Another famous case of cyber defamation occurred in America. All friends and relatives of a lady were beset with obscene e-mail messages appearing to originate from her account. These mails were giving the lady in question a bad name among her friends. The lady was an activist against pornography. In reality, a group of people displeased with her views and angry with her for opposing they had decided to get back at her by using such underhanded methods. In addition to sending spoofed
obscene e-mails they also put up websites about her, that basically maligned her character and sent e-mails to her family and friends containing matter defaming her.
The Oxford dictionary defines stalking as "pursuing stealthily". Cyber stalking involves following a person's movements across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc.
Frequently Used Cyber Crimes
Unauthorized access to computer systems or networks
This activity is commonly referred to as hacking. The Indian law has however given a different connotation to the term hacking, so we will not use the term "unauthorized access" interchangeably with the term "hacking". Theft of information contained in electronic form
This includes information stored in computer hard disks, removable storage media etc
Email bombing refers to sending a large number of emails to the victim resulting in the victim's email account (in case of an individual) or mail servers (in case of a company or an email service provider) crashing.
Some of the major email related crimes are:
1. Email spoofing
2. Sending malicious codes through email
3. Email bombing
4. Sending threatening emails
5. Defamatory emails
6. Email frauds
This kind of an attack involves altering raw data just before it is processed by a computer and then changing it back after the processing is completed. Electricity Boards in India have been victims to data diddling programs inserted when private parties were computerizing their systems.
These attacks are used for the commission of financial crimes. The key here is to make the alteration so insignificant that in a single case it would go completely unnoticed.
Denial of Service attack
This involves flooding a computer resource with more requests than it can handle. This causes the resource (e.g. a web server) to crash thereby denying authorized users the service offered by the resource. Another variation to a typical denial of service attack is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack wherein the perpetrators are many and are geographically widespread. It is very difficult to control such attacks. The attack is initiated by sending excessive demands to
the victim's computer(s), exceeding the limit that the victim's servers can support and making the servers crash.
Virus / worm attacks
Viruses are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by altering or deleting it. Worms, unlike viruses do not need the host to attach themselves to. They merely make functional copies of themselves and do this repeatedly till they eat up all the available space on a computer's memory
These are event dependent programs. This implies that these programs are created to do something only when a certain event (known as a trigger event) occurs. E.g. even some viruses may be termed logic bombs because they lie dormant all through the year and become active only on a particular date
A Trojan as this program is aptly called, is an unauthorized program which functions from inside what seems to be an authorized program, thereby concealing what it is actually doing.
Internet time thefts
This connotes the usage by an unauthorized person of the Internet hours paid for by another person. In a case reported before the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000 Colonel Bajwa, a resident of New Delhi, asked a nearby net caf owner to come and set up his Internet connection. For this purpose, the net caf owner needed to know his username and password. After having set up the connection he went away with knowing the present username and password. He then sold this information to another net cafe. One week later Colonel Bajwa found that his Internet hours were almost over. Out of the 100 hours that he had bought, 94 hours had been used up within the span of that week. Surprised, he reported the incident to the Delhi police. The police could not believe that time could be stolen. They were not aware of the concept of time-theft at all. Colonel Bajwa's report was rejected. He decided to approach The Times of India, New Delhi. They, in turn carried a report about the inadequacy of the New Delhi Police in handling cyber crimes. The Commissioner of Police, Delhi then took the case into his own hands and the police under his directions raided and arrested the net cafe owner under the charge of theft as defined by the Indian Penal Code. The net caf owner spent several weeks locked up in Tihar jail before being granted bail.
This occurs when someone forcefully takes control of a website (by cracking the password and later changing it). The actual owner of the website does not have any more control over what appears on that website In a recent incident reported in the USA the owner of a hobby website for children received an e-mail informing her that a group of hackers had gained control over her website.
Theft of computer system
This type of offence involves the theft of a computer, some part's of a computer or a peripheral attached to the computer.
Physically damaging a computer system. This crime is committed by physically damaging a computer or its peripherals.
Kids (age group 9-16 etc.)
It seems really difficult to believe but it is true. Most amateur hackers and cyber criminals are teenagers. To them, who have just begun to understand what appears to be a lot about computers, it is a matter of pride to have hacked into a computer system or a website. There is also that little issue of appearing really smart among friends. These young rebels may also commit cyber crimes without really knowing that they are doing anything wrong.
Hacktivists are hackers with a particular (mostly political) motive. In other cases this reason can be social activism, religious activism, etc.The attacks on approximately 200 prominent Indian websites by a group of hackers known as Pakistani Cyber Warriors are a good example of political hacktivists at work.
One can hardly believe how spiteful displeased employees can become. Till now they had the option of going on strike against their bosses. Now, with the increase independence on computers and the automation of processes, it is easier for disgruntled employees to do more harm to their employers by committing computer related crimes, which can bring entire systems down.
Professional hackers (corporate espionage)
Extensive computerization has resulted in business organizations storing all their information in electronic form. Rival organizations employ hackers to steal industrial secrets and other information that could be beneficial to them. The temptation to use professional hackers for industrial espionage also stems from the fact that physical presence required to gain access to important documents is rendered needless if hacking can retrieve those.
The World's Most Famous Hackers
His claim to fame is that this mathematician who graduated from St. Petersburg Tekhnologichesky University was the brain behind the Russian hacker gang that cheated Citibank's computers into giving out $10 million. Although his first use of a computer is unknown Vladimir was allegedly using his office computer at AO Saturn, a computer firm in St.Petersburg, Russia, to break into Citibank computers. Vladimir Levin was arrested at the Heathrow airport in 1995. Tools used by him included computer, computer games and disks, a camcorder, music speakers and a TV set all of which were found by the Russian police at his apartment. During his trial, Levin alleged that one of his defence lawyers was actually an FBI agent.
He was known to run the world's most popular re-mailer programme called penet.fi. Surprisingly, this re-mailer, the busiest in the world, was run on an ordinary 486 with a 200-megabyte hard drive. His other idiosyncrasy was that he never tried to remain anonymous.The Finnish police raided Johan in 1995 due to a complaint by the Church of Scientology that a penet.fi customer was posting the "church's" secrets on the Net. At that time Johan had to abandon the re-mailer.
Kevin Mitnick alias on the Net was Condor. As a teenager Kevin Mitnick could not afford his own computer. He would therefore go to a Radio Shack store and use the models kept there for demonstration to dial into other computers.One of the unusual things about Mitnick was that he used the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to send messages to his friends. A judge sentenced him
to one year in a residential treatment center. There, Kevin enrolled in a 12-step program to rid him of what the judge also termed his "computer addiction". Mitnick was immortalized when he became the first hacker to have his face put on an FBI "most wanted" poster. His repeated offences - and an image of a teenage hacker who refused to grow up - made him The Lost Boy of Cyberspace.
He was known to the Internet community as "rtm". But he was distinguished by much more than his fame as a hacker. He was the son of the chief scientist at the National Computer Security Center -- part of the National Security Agency (NSA), USA. In addition, this graduate from Cornell University rocketed to fame because of the Internet worm, which he unleashed in 1988, practically maiming the fledgling Internet. Thousands of computers were infected and subsequently crashed. Suddenly,
the term "hacker" became common in every household in America. Surprisingly, Robert's father is to be held responsible for introducing him to the world of computers. He brought the original Enigma cryptographic machines home from the NSA. Later, as a teenager, Morris was recognized as a star user at the Bell Labs network where he had an account. This recognition was due to his earlier forays into hacking.
Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson
He was also known as dmr and Ken were the legendary coders who designed the UNIX system for mini-computers in 1969. They were the creative geniuses behind Bell Labs' computer science operating group. UNIX really helped users and soon became a standard language. One of the tools used by them included Plan 9, the next-generation operating system, created
after UNIX by Rob Pike, their colleague at bell Labs. Dennis also has the distinction of being the author of the C programming language.
Denial of Service Tools
Denial-of-service (or DoS) attacks are usually launched to make a particular service unavailable to someone who is authorized to use it. These attacks may be launched using one single computer or many computers across the world. In the latter scenario, the attack is known as a distributed denial of service attack. Usually these attacks do not necessitate the need to get access into anyone's system.
These attacks have been getting decidedly more popular as more and more people realize the amount and magnitude of loss, which can be caused through them.
What are the reasons that a hacker may want to resort to a DoS attack? He may have installed a Trojan in the victim's computer but needed to have the computer restarted to activate the Trojan. The other good reason also may be that a business may want to harm a competitor by crashing his systems.
Denial-of-service attacks have had an impressive history having, in the past, blocked out websites like Amazon, CNN, Yahoo and eBay. The attack is initiated by sending excessive demands to the victim's computer's, exceeding the limit that the victim's servers can support and making the servers crash. Sometimes, many computers are entrenched in this process
by installing a Trojan on them; taking control of them and then making them send numerous demands to the targeted computer. On the other side, the victim of such an attack may see many such demands (sometimes even numbering tens of thousands) coming from computers from around the world. Unfortunately, to be able to gain control over a malicious denial-of-service attack would require tracing all the computers involved in the attack and then informing the owners of those systems about the attack. The compromised system would need to be shut down or then cleaned. This process, which sounds fairly simple, may prove very difficult to achieve across national and later organizational borders.
Even when the source(s) of the attack are traced there are many problems, which the victim may be faced with. He will need to inform all the involved organizations in control of the attacking computers and ask them to either clean the systems or shut them down. Across international boundaries this may prove to be a titanic task. The staff of the organization may not understand the language. They may not be present if the attack were to be launched during the night or during weekends.
The computers that may have to be shut down may be vital for their processes and the staff may not have the authority to shut them down. The staff may not understand the attack, system administration, network topology, or any number of things that may delay or halt shutting down the attacking computer's. Or, more simply, the organization may not have the desire to help.
If there are hundreds or even thousands of computers on the attack, with problems like the ones mentioned above, the victim may not be able to stop the attack for days by which time the damage would have been done. His servers would be completely incapacitated to administer to so many demands and consequently would crash.
It is very simple for anyone to launch an attack because denial-of-service tools can easily be procured from the Net. The major versions of distributed denial of service attack tools are Trinoo (or trin00), TFN, TFN2K and Stacheldraht. Denial-of-Service tools allow the attackers to automate and preset the times and frequencies of such attacks so that the attack is launched and then stopped to be launched once again later. This makes it very difficult, in fact almost impossible, to trace the
source of the attack.
These tools also provide another service by which the attacking computer can change its source address randomly thereby making it seem as if the attack is originating from many thousands of computers while in reality there may be only a few. Distributed denial-of-service attacks are a very perturbing problem for law enforcement agencies mainly because they
are very difficult to trace. In addition, usually these attacks are directed towards very sensitive systems or networks sometimes even those that are vital to national security. Sometimes, even when the perpetrators can be traced, international extradition laws may prove to be a hitch in bringing them under the authority of the law.
How Can We Prevent Computer Crime?
a. By Educating Everyone.
For example, users and systems operators; people who hold personal data and the people about whom it is held; people who create intellectual property and those who buy it; and the criminals. We must educate people to:
1. Understand how technology can be used to help or hurt others.
2. Think about what it would be like to be the victim of a computer hacker or computer pirate.
b. By Practicing Safe Computing.
1. Always ask: Who has or may have access to my log-in address?
2. Remember: People such as computer hackers and pirates who hurt others through computer technology are not "cool." They are breaking the law.