W3C - Phishing remains root of flourishing e-crime

Phishing remains at the core of a host of scams creating by criminals using the Internet.

"The Web is under attack," said Phillip Hallam-Baker, principal scientist at VeriSign, who gave a session Thursday on Internet crime at the W3C (World Wide Web) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, this week.

Internet crime often starts with phishing, the practice of duping a user into revealing bank account or log-in credentials via a fraudulent Web site.

Phishers send out reams of e-mail bait that say users' account information has expired or needs updating. The e-mail includes links to a site that may look very similar to their bank Web site, but isn't. Once those credentials are obtained, criminals use the information in a variety of creative and costly scams.

The tools to commit e-crime are for sale on the Internet. Mounting an attack on millions of Internet users can be done for a little as US$300, Hallam-Baker said. Networks of computers under the control of hackers, called botnets, can be rented to send spam. Also for sale are lists of up to 100 million e-mail addresses.

Hallam-Baker said one Russian hacker will create a custom rootkit -- a method to hide a piece of malicious software deep in a computer's operating system -- for about US$60.

If users are tricked into clicking on an attachment with a piece of malware, it can mean all of their personal data, such as passwords and credit card numbers, can be recorded and sent back to the hacker, who may resell them to other criminals.

The following are examples Hallam-Baker gave of the next steps clever e-criminals take after obtaining personal information:

Carding: Once credit card numbers are collected from a phishing site, the next step is putting the numbers to use in a way that can't easily be traced, a practice known as "carding." The fraud starts when scammers attract people through work-at-home schemes. The people, who believe they are doing a legitimate job as a packer or reshipper, assume the role of the "mule," an effective transit point to launder money or goods.

The scam works like this: The carder uses a credit card to order an item that's delivered to the mule. The mule's job is to move the goods to another person -- a fence -- who either sells the goods or moves them on to the carder.

When a fraudulent purchase is reported on the credit card, the mule is the first contact with law enforcement, and often, is liable.

Auction fraud: This scam involves users' log-in credentials for auction sites.

An Internet auction site user receives an e-mail asking about a laptop the user is supposed to send. The auction user is not supposed to send a laptop, and to resolve the misunderstanding the user is tricked into revealing information on a phishing site.

The perpetrator sells a camera on the auction site with the user's credentials. The camera buyer wires the money to the scammer, usually through a hard-to-trace wire transfer service such as Western Union, Hallam-Baker said.

The camera buyer e-mails the Web auction user asking for the camera. However, there is no camera.

Pump and dump: This hard-to-trace scam often crosses borders, making criminal investigations difficult.

A phisher will gain access to dozens of brokerage accounts and buy a few hundred dollars worth of "penny" stocks, typically those valued under US$1. The thinly traded stocks start to rise in value, and the criminals sell their own holdings on the market, Hallam-Baker said.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has probes under way after several banks alerted the agency to this fraud, said Scott McGaunn, a special agent who investigates computer crimes.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?