Posts Tagged 'crime'

Dell gets into Forensics

As cyber crime grows Dell has decided to offer up a new service for law enforcement. A new digital forensics service is aimed at helping authorities police the Internet. The package offering jointly with Intel and other partners provides the necessary tools to host a data center for a coordinated effort to deal with criminals more efficiently. Helping to provide an infrastructure solution should help counter increasing computer crime.

My avatar made me do it

Online gaming has millions of characters (and the people controlling them) interacting virtually. Some co-operatively and others, not so co-operatively, more like coercively. A Dutch court has imposed real life penalties to a couple of youths who robbed another of his virtual possessions. Have we crossed a boundary between virtual actions and real world consequences?

The case has set a precedent by dishing out punishment for online activity. This raises many questions about avatars, characters, online accounts and virtual crimes. If my character does your character wrong can I be punished in real life? I guess if you can prove that my virtual actions caused you real life suffering then I could be in a bit of trouble. Also why should I be punished for the actions of my character, why not just punish my character? Also does a real life organization need to police characters in game? Isn’t that for the game developer to decide? One thing is clear, online games are changing the was we recognize virtual possessions. No longer can we commit crimes online and hide behind the Internet.

UK government wants to keep track of all data exchanges

The Government will store “a billion incidents of data exchange a day” as details of every text, email and browsing session in the UK are recorded under new proposals published yesterday.

The information will be made available to police forces in order to crack down on serious crime, but will also be accessible by local councils, health authorities and even Ofsted and the Post Office.

One example of crime prevention using the data given in the consultation document is that of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency, which targets sexual abuse of children.

“The vast majority of CEOP’s work is by resolution of IP addresses, e-mail addresses and increasingly mobile phone numbers. (link)

Hard drives to be expert witness against you

The government contends that it is perfectly free to inspect every laptop that enters the country, whether or not there is anything suspicious about the computer or its owner. Rummaging through a computer’s hard drive, the government says, is no different than looking through a suitcase.

One federal appeals court has agreed, and a second seems ready to follow suit.

There is one lonely voice on the other side. In 2006, Judge Dean D. Pregerson of Federal District Court in Los Angeles suppressed the evidence against Mr. Arnold.

“Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory,” Judge Pregerson wrote, in explaining why the government should not be allowed to inspect them without cause. “They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound.”

Computer hard drives can include, Judge Pregerson continued, diaries, letters, medical information, financial records, trade secrets, attorney-client materials and — the clincher, of course — information about reporters’ “confidential sources and story leads.”

But Judge Pregerson’s decision seems to be headed for reversal. The three judges who heard the arguments in October in the appeal of his decision seemed persuaded that a computer is just a container and deserves no special protection from searches at the border. The same information in hard-copy form, their questions suggested, would doubtless be subject to search. (story)

Study examines role of China in cybercrime

A study (PDF) published this week by researchers from China and Germany provides insight into the scope of the rapidly growing underground cybercrime economy in China. The paper explores the complex relationships between different kinds of participants in the underground economy, reveals the value of various illicit technical goods and services, measures the number of malware propagation sites, and evaluates the mitigation efficacy of popular antivirus programs.

The paper describes an economic model for China’s cybercrime underground and enumerates several categories of participants: malware developers, phishing site operators, crackers, login information (referred to as “envelopes” in the study) thieves, virtual asset thieves, and virtual asset sellers. The study also identifies an additional category of participants—called players—who purchase dubiously-obtained virtual assets, typically for use in popular Internet games. The paper then explains how participants from these categories interact to create the underground market. (link)

Police catch up with Internet and crime

Many of today’s US police departments have computer forensics teams on hand that can perform digital sleuthing when a case calls for it. For most departments, however, the online realm still isn’t a standard “beat” during an investigation. Lieutenant Charles Cohen, an Indiana state trooper, hopes to change this with a lecture he’s taking to police departments across the country about the usefulness of searching online communities for clues and for criminals. The message is simple: forensic experts aren’t the only law enforcement people who need to be keeping a close eye on online activities.

The new techniques seem to be having an initial impact. A growing handful of crimes are being solved or at least aided by information gleaned from searching MySpace profiles and staking out Second Life areas. But if these methods are going to continue producing results, however, a lot more work needs to be done to go beyond merely tipping officials off to these tools; more will need to be trained to understand how these networks function, as well as how and where the trends ebb and flow. As social networking criminals wise up to efforts from law enforcement, these digital clues and practices could evolve to become more cryptic and sophisticated as cops invade the web.

(full story)

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