For the last time: Frustration with your workplace does not justify a campaign of retaliatory vandalism. You are not the IT Count of Monte Cristo.
Today ComputerWorld spins the sorry tale of Long Islander Michael Meneses. The FBI alleges that he quit in a huff after being passed over for a promotion and, rather than simply sending out a few resumes, began remotely sabotaging his former employer to the tune of $90,000 in damages.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.
DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.
When Hackers Attack
When NASA’s computers get infected, government officials don’t mess around.
In a 62-page indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York today, a number of parties, including Preet Bharara’s office, the New York office of the FBI, and NASA’s Inspector General brought charges against six Estonian nationals and one Russian national for a “massive and sophisticated” Internet fraud scheme.
The clickjackers infected 4 million computers in more than 100 countries with malware, including at least 500,00 computers in the U.S. that belonged to NASA, educational institutions, businesses and non-profits.
The Bad Kind of Viral
Will your Internet suddenly vanish on Monday, July 9? Will you click on that new cute kitten video only to see full-blown failure, white noise, an Indian head placard, as the vicious “Alureon/DNSChanger bot” takes its final victims down in a mini-Webageddon? No, probably not.
Yes, as of 12:01 a.m. on July 9 the FBI will remove its phalanx of protective servers that have been keeping still-infected computers safely online. However the panic over the possibility of losing Internet access is probably, at this point, out-of-proportion to the actual level of infection. In the United States the number of still-infected computers runs in the 100s of thousands. Out of hundreds of millions of computers. Think about those odds for a moment–chances are excellent you are not among the infected, the unclean.
On July 9th, hundreds of thousands of individuals around the globe will be blocked from the Internet. It’s the final phase of Operation Ghost Click, an FBI investigation into the DNSChanger virus.
Last year, the agency and other international authorities apprehended a crime ring of six Estonian hackers who built a complex system of false DNS servers. The customized virus, reports CBC, was spread through ”infected emails, bad websites, and malware scripts,” and affected nearly 650,000 computers around the globe.
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
At a Senate intelligence hearing earlier this month, the FBI declared that cyber attacks would soon surpass big bad, old-fashioned terrorism as the biggest threat to America. No big shocker there, intelligence officials have been saying as much since last year. But in private meetings at the White House, the NSA started to paint a picture of how that might become a reality.
The director of the National Security Agency warned that within a year or two, the hacktivist collective Anonymous may be capable of using cyber attacks to cause a temporary power outage by disrupting power supplies, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The word hacker has been everywhere recently, splashed across the front page for weeks as the “Phone Hacking” scandal at News of the World engulfed Rupert Murdoch and his media empire. There is a sensational mystique to the term that makes it irresistible to journalists. But typing the default password “1111” into the voicemail box of a murdered girl is not hacking. Neither is bribing the police for the phone numbers of celebrities and crime victims. Unless we’re ready to call smashing the window on my Honda Civic “car hacking,” nothing in the News. Corp scandal fits the bill.
“If it had been me, I would have broken into the phone company system, so I could have had direct access to the messages of all their customers,” said Kevin Mitnick, who was for several years the most wanted computer criminal in America, after hacking into the voicemail computers at Pacific Bell. “What News Corp. did, guess pin codes, spoofing voicemails, that is amateur script kiddie stuff.”