Welcome to the Crime Lab! Here you will find information about cyber crimes and what happens to people who commit them.

Officer Ward

Officer Ward
Cyber Defender & Detention Center Security Officer

Officer Ward believes that most people who disrespect the privelages of Cyberspace are more ignorant than criminal, and that most cyber criminals can be rehabilitated into faithful cyber citizens through education about the dangers of delinquency in Cyberspace.

Working closely with Commander Omni and the Cyber Defense Academy, Officer Ward hopes to secure Cyberspace for everyone.

Favorite Quote:

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do
- John Baptiste Moliere

Favorite Food:

Cupcakes

Interests:

Coaching softball, fishing, catching cyber criminals

December 7, 2010

Catching Cyber Criminals - Reformed Criminals

Iím not sure what to think about Nils capturing cyber criminals for us. Has he turned over a new leaf? Is he trying to fool us into trusting him? I suppose we will just have to wait and seeÖ

But Iím not a man of waiting! Iím a man of action!

I did some research, and it turns out that cyber criminals becoming good guys isnít an impossible thing. I mean, take ex-hackers David Allouch and Mohammed Bahga, for example. Those are two former criminals that now spend their considerable talents keeping people safe from the bad guys. Mr. Allouch has started several companies, one of which is designed to keep websites safe. Mr. Bahga, on the other hand, is a security engineer (which is a fancy term for a professional cyber cadet).

So maybe there is hope for him after all. Iíll do the right thing and (cautiously) give him the benefit of the doubt. It is the season of forgiveness, right?

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

May 11 2009

Catching Cyber Criminals: Reporting Cyber Criminals

Just like any other crime, cyber criminals are going to keep getting away with committing cyber crimes if nobody ever reports them. By reporting cyber crimes you are not only helping Cyber Defenders reduce the amount of cyber crime, but you are also sending a message to all cyber criminals that their behavior will not be tolerated in cyberspace.

Of course, I hope you're doing your part to protect yourself and your computer so you never need to report a cyber crime. But just in case you do, here's some tips for reporting cyber crimes.

For cyber bullying, it usually depends what the method of bullying is. Cyber bullying on a Web site can be reported to the site administrator or moderator, bullying over email or instant messenger can be reported to the ISP. If the bully is someone you go to school with, you can also report the bullying to your school. If the bullying involves threats of physical harm, you can report it to the police.

Other cyber crimes like hacking and identity theft can be reported to your local FBI office or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Web site. For detailed information about whom to report specific types of cyber crimes to, visit the United States Department of Justice's cyber crime page.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

April 27 2009

Catching Cyber Criminals: The Future of Cyber Crime Fighting

Fighting cyber crime is a challenging task. Sometimes it feels like the cyber criminals will always be just one step ahead of us. We have to be constantly developing new tools, new technologies, new procedures, and even new fields of study just to keep up.

Law enforcement agencies and governments are creating cyber crime units to combat the ever-increasing cyber crime-rate. However, since cyber crime is relatively new, there aren't a lot of experts available to train these units. Many colleges are now offering degrees in new fields like cyber crime and cyber forensics (process of extracting data from devices or systems, usually to examine as evidence of a cyber crime) just to create these experts.

Software developers are also becoming more actively involved in analyzing and preventing cyber crime by working with law enforcement. Their expertise can be in training new cyber crime units. They also develop and provide tools that help cyber crime units collect and process evidence. One example is the COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor), a USB device developed by Microsoft that allows forensics teams to quickly and easily extract data from a suspect's computer without having to confiscate it first.

One thing's for sure. Cyber criminals will always be searching for loopholes and vulnerabilities so the future of fighting cyber crime is sure to be an exciting one.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

March 30 2009

Catching Cyber Criminals: Hacking Conferences

Security conferences are a popular location for companies and government officials to try and recruit new employees. At these conferences, security experts teach network administrators and information-technology managers how to protect their systems from hackers. College students in computer security programs can even have their tuition covered by the government, if they promise to work there after they graduate.

But some security conferences are a little more secret and underground, such as the conferences that the hackers attend. Here, budding cyber criminals and seasoned hackers meet to trade secrets and learn new tricks from each other.

Believe it or not, companies and government officials also attend these conferences, to gain more insight into the current state of cyber crime. They also try to recruit employees at these conferences, encouraging them to turn from Black Hat Hackers to Grey Hat Hackers.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

February 23 2009

Catching Cyber Criminals: Grey Hat Hackers

For a hacker who wants to come clean and turn away from crime, one option is to work for the people they used to harm by becoming a security consultant. These former hackers turned good guys are called Grey Hat Hackers.

In the past, they were Black Hat Hackers, who use their computer expertise to break into systems and steal information illegally, but now they are acting as White Hat Hackers, who specialize in testing the security of their clients' information systems. For a fee, they will attempt to hack into a company's network and then present the company with a report detailing the existing security holes and how those holes can be fixed.

The advantage of this is that they can use their skills for a good cause and help stop other cyber criminals. Keeping up with security and cyber criminals is a full-time job, and many companies can't afford to have someone completely dedicated to it. Grey Hat Hackers have real-world hacking experience and know more methods of infiltrating networks than most computer security professionals.

There's also a risk in employing Grey Hat Hackers. Since they used to be criminals there's always a question of trust, if they are truly trying to help or if it's just a trick. They might also lie about how vulnerable their client's security is and convince them to install a really complex system that only they know how to use. This way they make their clients completely dependant on them and then can charge them any amount of money they want.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

January 26 2009

Catching Cyber Criminals: Punishment

Different countries have different laws that cover cyber crimes. So you don't underestimate the seriousness of committing cyber crimes, here's some examples of the punishments for cyber crime in the United States:

  • Hacking - Hacking is covered under a Federal law addressing fraud in connection with computers. Punishments range from paying a large fine to going to jail for up to 20 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime and how much damage the hacker has done.
  • Spamming - Spamming is covered under the CAN-SPAM Act and the minimum punishment is a fine of up to $11,000. Additional fines are added if the spammer violated policies or used automated bots to collect email addresses, and spammers can be sent to jail if they used false information or a computer they weren't allowed to use.
  • Identity Theft - The laws covering Identity Theft were enhanced in 2004, requiring tougher punishments to match the seriousness of the crime. Identity Thieves can go to jail for up to five years. There are also increased punishments for identity theft used to commit terrorist acts and for people who abuse their position for identity theft.

Due to the increase in cyber crimes in recent years, many governments have enhanced their cyber crime laws. However, they still need the help of cyber defenders in tracking down cyber criminals. It's important that you report cyber crimes like spam, so that the criminals behind them can be prosecuted and fined under the law. With everyone's help we can help reduce cyber crime.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

December 8 2008

Catching Cyber Criminals: Cyber Crime Units

Because the Internet is a global community and cyber criminals can launch coordinated attacks from all over the globe, catching them often requires the collaboration of many people. Governments, law enforcement agencies, companies, and cyberspace experts from many different countries must work together to track them down. This becomes more difficult as cyber crime continues to grow and criminals develop new methods.

Governments and law enforcement agencies have created teams of people dedicated just to tracking down cyber criminals. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a special Cyber Investigations department, and they helped create the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 provides the public with an easy-to-use reporting system that alerts the authorities of suspected criminal violations.

Many police departments also have, or are training, Internet or Computer Crime units that people can contact for information and assistance. These units support the law enforcement in investigating cyber crimes and tracking down cyber criminals. You can check with your local police department to see what kind of resources they have available.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

November 10 2008

Catching Cyber Criminals: Attack Techniques

Before the Internet, criminals had to dig through people's trash or intercept their mail to steal their personal information. They would search for credit card receipts, bank statements, tax notices, and other bills that had this information printed on them. Now that all of this information is available online, criminals also use the Internet to steal people's identities by hacking into their account, tricking them into revealing the information, or installing malware.

Here are a few types of attacks cyber criminals use to commit crimes. You may recognize a few of them:

  • Botnet - a network of software robots, or bots, that automatically spread malicious software
  • Fast Flux - moving data quickly among the computers in a botnet to make it difficult to trace the source of malware or phishing Web sites
  • Zombie Computer - a computer that has been hacked into and is used to launch malicious attacks or to become part of a botnet
  • Social Engineering - using lies and manipulation to trick people into revealing their personal information. Phishing is a form of social engineering
  • Denial of Service attacks - flooding a network or server with traffic in order to make it unavailable to its users
  • Skimmers - Devices that steal credit card information when the card is swiped through them. This can happen in stores or restaurants when the card is out of the owner's view, and frequently the credit card information is then sold online through a criminal community.

Some identity thieves target government, education, or health care organizations because they usually store many people's personal information. But most cyber criminals will target home computers rather than trying to break into a big institution's network because it's much easier.

By taking measures to secure your own computer and protect your personal information, you are doing your part to keep cyber criminals in check. Not only will they be unable to steal your identity, but you will also protect others by preventing your computer from becoming part of a botnet.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals

October 13 2008

Catching Cyber Criminals: Who are they?

Just like offline crimes, most cyber crimes are committed by individuals or small groups. However, large organized crime groups who make money through criminal means are also taking advantage of the Internet. These "professional" criminals find new ways to commit old crimes and steal or trick people out of their money. They are particularly dangerous because they treat cyber crime like a business. They form criminal communities that span the globe.

Criminal communities can combine forces to launch coordinated attacks and share their criminal strategies and tools. They have also created an underground marketplace to make it easy for cyber criminals to buy and sell stolen information and identities. There are even sales and bulk discounts! Because the Internet makes it easier for people to do things anonymously and from any location on the globe, it's very difficult to crack down on these crimes.

In recent studies of where cyber attacks come from, the United States was at the top of the list. That doesn't necessarily mean that most cyber criminals are from the United States though. Many computers used in cyber attacks have actually been hacked and are controlled by someone far away. This makes it harder to trace attacks and because crime laws are different in every country. It's also harder to stop the criminals. That's why it's so important for you to take responsibility and keep your own computer secure, to keep it from being used for a cyber attack and to help stop cyber criminals.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Catching Cyber Criminals