Hits and Misses

Stop Calling Tor ‘The Web Browser For Criminals’

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.40.38 PM

Yesterday, a rumor surfaced on deep web blog DeepDotWeb that Comcast was going to start blocking users of Tor, an anonymous web browser. Comcast Vice President Jason Livingood immediately and rightfully called bullshit, because for all of its customer service foibles, Comcast knows that preventing people from browsing the Internet anonymously would be a daring infringement on user privacy.

The confusion came to rest shortly after the posting of a Business Insider story called “Comcast Denies It Will Cut Off Customers Who Use Tor, The Web Browser For Criminals.” Besides reaffirming the simple notion that you shouldn’t just believe something you read on a subreddit, the story — which was viewed over 22,000 times — reaffirms the notion that Tor is a tool for evil. Read More

Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

Study: Cybercrime Is Nowhere Near as Expensive as Previous Estimates

This guy is everywhere now. (Image Devdsp on Flickr

Politicians and scaremongers are prone to throwing around some pretty big numbers for the costs of cybercrime. But the Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a new report, the costs are something like $100 billion annually–far less than the oft-cited previous estimate of $1 trillion. 

The study is the work of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee, which was also responsible for the higher number, back in 2009. This time, though, they admitted that “some of the assumptions” were wrong. No kidding.  Read More


Booting Up: You Can’t Use Square to Sell Guns Any More


The crooner Bing Crosby might’ve been a total dick, but it turns out he was a pretty smart angel investor. Guess the Biebs isn’t so special, after all! [New Yorker]

“They became a virtual criminal flash mob, going from machine to machine, drawing as much money as they could, before these accounts were shut down.” Don’t look now but someone lived out your wildest ATM-related dreams. [The Verge]

If you’re going to I/O, keep your eyes peeled for all the sensors tracking air quality, noise levels and lord knows what else. [TechCrunch]

Square’s TOS was recently updated to add that you can’t sell “firearms, firearm parts or hardware, and ammunition; or… weapons and other devices designed to cause physical injury” using the service. Guess you’re gonna have to start bringing duffle bags full of cash to the gun show again. [CNN Money]

Aereo launches in Atlanta June 17. [Aereo]

Smooth Criminals

Manhattan DA Will Launch High-Tech Cybercrime Lab to Sleuth Out Identity Theft and Child Porn

Mr. Vance

Keeping up with criminals is like keeping up with the Joneses. It often requires making some state-of-the-art purchases. Thus Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is planning on investing $2.4 million in City Council funding into a new High Technology Analysis Unit (HTAU) lab set to launch by the end of next year.

As Speaker Christine Quinn told DNAinfo, it’s all about catching up with the bad guys. “In this day and age, we need to be as sophisticated as the criminals are, using every tool we can,” she said, calling the Internet, “the new crime scene of the modern age.” Law & Order: JavaScript? Read More

Smooth Criminals

DA’s Office Announces Sentences for S3, Brooklyn’s Apple Store-Targeting, Family-Run Cyber Gang


Today Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced sentencing for 16 members of a cybercrime ring based in Brooklyn calling itself “S3.” Members of the group admitted to credit card forgery and identity theft that compromised hundreds of bank accounts. Using counterfeit credit cards, they fraudulently purchased Apple products around the country and resold them for profit.

In a press release announcing the sentencing, Mr. Vance called S3 “truly a family affair.”  Read More

When Hackers Attack

Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Drug Traffickers: Cybercrime Isn’t That Lucrative


Cybercrime! We’re basically living through the digital equivalent of Prohibition, right? Well, a couple of researchers would like to quash everyone’s mental images of Scarface but with credit-card databases instead of blow.  Having run the numbers, researchers Dinei Florêncio and Cormac Herley took to the New York Times opinion page to trumpet their doubts: Read More


FBI Could Pull the Plug On Millions of Internet Users March 8

These guys want to help. Really.

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. Read More

True Crime

Corrupt Chase Bank Tellers Charged With Helping Thieves Steal Customers’ Identities


As police commissioner Ray Kelly said after the bust of an international identity theft ring in October in which more than 100 people were suspected to be involved: “The schemes and the imagination that is developing these days are really mind-boggling.” That global scam, in which U.S.-based gangs were skimming credit cards and buying high-end computer equipment, came to light following a two year investigation—”Operation Swiper.” So we were momentarily confused when we saw an indictment for an identity fraud ring involving dozens of people. Perhaps it was the same case?

It was unclear based on the details released, so Betabeat called the Attorney’s office to ask. Were these identity theft rings the same? Nope, it turns out. New York City has just been experiencing an insane uptick in cybercrime rings, especially those involving identity theft.

The DA’s office has been slinging indictments left and right: there have been at least four indictments of criminals involved in identity theft rings in New York City in which the case involved a conspiracy of dozens of defendants since Operation Swiper came to a head just over two months ago. Read More