Computer Crime Research Center


Hacking grows

Date: June 09, 2006
By: Andy Vuong

The thrill-seeking teenager is no longer the face of computer hacking.

Sophisticated computer experts looking to profit from their technical skills are driving the new wave of cybercrimes, a national expert told 100 security officials Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Using "ransomware" and "spear phishing," among other techniques, these hackers are breaking into the computer systems of banks, small businesses and even the U.S. and British military, said Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, a computer-security training and research organization based in Bethesda, Md.

Ransomware is software that hackers use to keep victims from being able to access their computer data until a ransom is paid, Paller said.

Spear phishing occurs when hackers send spoof e-mails to government workers that appear to be from the agency's security officer, asking them to download a software patch that ultimately leaves their computers vulnerable.

"It's a story that we don't tell very much because telling it scares people," said Pal ler, who has testified before Congress on cybersecurity and homeland-security issues. "Hacking ... has become a financial crime, and it's a good financial crime."
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