To counter the growing threat of professional, profit-driven cyber-criminals, enforcement agents or “hacker hunters” are combining the latest cybercrime deterrents with traditional tactics such as infiltration and the Internet equivalent of wire-tapping to topple and successfully prosecute online crime rings.
The need to prevent cybercrime has never been more crucial, as the damage caused by hackers is steadily growing worse, while enforcement agencies are underfunded and underequipped. The urgency of the situation has not only helped cultivate smarter federal, state, and local agencies, but greater collaboration between them; in addition, cybercrime legislation is being pursued more aggressively.
The highly publicized takedown of the ShadowCrew hacker gang by the Secret Service is a case study in how both the nature of cybercrime and anti-cybercrime strategy is changing. ShadowCrew’s suspected ringleaders allegedly ran shadowcrew.com as an international clearinghouse for stolen credit cards and identity documents, and the gang reportedly had 4,000 members worldwide: Two people administered the Web site and recruited members; “moderators” hosted online forums where members could share tips on hacking and ID theft; “reviewers” obtained and tested merchandise; and “vendors” bought and sold on the site, mostly through online auctions.
The Secret Service enlisted an insider to act as an informant, created and used a gateway to locate gang members, and coordinated an international crackdown on ShadowCrew by state and local police and authorities in six foreign countries.
The biggest obstacle law enforcement faces in curbing cybercrime is its worldwide scope. Countries with weak hacking laws and flimsy enforcement are havens for cyber-criminals, who can also tangle up the trail for investigators by keeping servers in a separate country.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the BusinessWeek (05/30/05) No. 3935, P. 74; Grow, Brian; Bush, Jason.