Skip to main content
Stand & Deliver
Russians (10), National Hi-tech Crime Unit, (1) but on the Internet, anything is possible, and in this case, the NHTCU have, with the help of the Russian Federation police, ‘bagged’ ten of the bad guys who have been attempting to extort money from online sports books, the online equivalent of the high street bookmaker, which have been plaguing British bookies since October 2003 by attacking their websites before major sporting events, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National and the Six Nations.

Illustrating the power of Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDOS), the Russian gang were reportedly demanding payments of up to $40,000 (£21,000) to go away but such is the growing popularity of computer crime in the old Soviet Union, one can bet that for every gang that succeeds or ends up doing time in the Siberian gulag, several more will spring-up to take their place.
It’s just as bad in Nigeria with any attempt to halt the tide of 419 (advance fee) scams from bogus businessmen and dictators who claim that they would like to borrow your bank account because you are a trustworthy person. A major attempt by the Dutch police to clamp down on the fraud collapsed in court this month with the defendants walking free and in Nigerian capital Abuja, the trial of three people, Emmanuel Nwude,  Amaka Anajemba and Nzeribe Okoli, all accused of eighty-six counts of defrauding an employee of a Brazilian bank of $242m also collapsed after the judge said he had "no jurisdiction to hear it."
That said, I did find myself speaking with two leading international police officers this month, who both winced when I mentioned Nigeria and the problem of 419 scams. It appears that nobody has ever been convicted for this kind of fraud and the most successful of the con-men all cluster around a well-known private lake development in the country which is named after them, allegedly.
So there’s the problem. Each nationality appears to have its own style or favourite scam on the Internet and the police hardly need to look at the IP addresses, they can take an educated guess and catch an EasyJet flight to the capital of most likely country and hope that their government has some legislative framework for dealing with, computer crime as it is described and defined by the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention.
Until not so long ago, robbing the British of ‘Danegeld’ on the present scale involved wearing a horned-helmet, having a small boat or perhaps an army and at least some kind of physical presence. Today however, looting and pillaging is an armchair sport with a minimal risk, with a cheap personal computer acting as a force multiplier that the Vikings could never have dreamed of. Unfortunately, no country that I’m aware of has sufficient resources to do more than fight the fires as they break out. As an example, Interpol has three officers tasked with its computer crime remit in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Computer crime pays and it pay very well indeed for the organised criminal gangs that are busy buying-up properties across Europe and exotic locations like Dubai.
All business and in particular, bookies can do, is adopt an expensive defensive posture and wait for the next attack but with Spamhaus telling me that thanks to Trojan viruses as many as 50,000 new proxies are appearing each week, how, I wonder do we even attempt to defend ourselves against Denial of Service attacks and the other new and highly effective weapons that make-up the new digital arsenal of organised crime?  It’s not a question of whether we can win but more of a question of where do we start?


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…