Web mobs are criminal organizations that operate exclusively online, selling stolen and counterfeit credit card numbers, email accounts, and other forms of personal ID. EBay chief security strategist Howard Schmidt warns that Web mobs can destroy the carefully cultivated trust between companies and customers by promoting and expediting identity theft and credit card fraud, undermining confidence in the Internet, and inhibiting the growth of e-commerce.
Web mobs consist of young, crafty, and cautious operators who conceal their real identities behind online aliases, and confuse attempts to track their communications by encrypting messages and routing them through multiple servers.
But such tactics do not make Web mobs impregnable: One group, Shadowcrew, was busted by the Secret Service with the help of an informant within the organization; the group is said to have had 4,000 members, making it the largest, best organized, and most popular Web mob at the time. The Shadowcrew hierarchy included a handful of top-level “administrators” who managed the group’s business operations, while day-to-day operations were handled by moderators who ran information and discussion forums, reviewers who assessed the quality of stolen IDs, vendors who sold the merchandise, and general members who accumulated and shared techniques for committing credit card fraud and other crimes on the Shadowcrew Web site.
Combating Web mobs is difficult, as the electronic infrastructure for apprehending these groups is still nonexistent. Technology experts say tech vendors are withholding the tools companies need to thwart cybercriminals, and they recommend better email filtering and email sender authentication schemes, a standardized methodology for reporting attacks to both companies and law enforcement, and the monitoring of domain names by businesses to deter criminals from spoofing Web addresses.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Baseline (03/05) Vol. 1, No. 41, P. 28; McCormick, John; Gage, Deborah .