Authorities Shutter Sites Hawking Fakes
Cyber Monday, when U.S. retailers offer special online discounts, has become a frenzied day of sales activity. Buried within a blizzard of transactions is a growing number of counterfeit goods. But, as CNET reported on 28 November, U.S. authorities including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the Department of Homeland Security have taken down 132 websites meant to deceive consumers by making them think they were getting fantastic bargains when they were actually paying for knockoffs. The domain name seizures are part of an ongoing effort called Project Cyber Monday. Over the past three post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganzas, these law enforcement agencies have taken over 1630 domains. How much potentially illicit business has been prevented? The authorities can’t say for sure, but ICE reports that warning banners put up in place of the sites’ previous content have received a total of 110 million views.
Russian Computer Security Group Developing Automated Cybercrime Stopper
Group-IB, part of the Skolkovo Foundation based in Moscow, says it is pouring US $966 000 into the development of a counter-cybercrime system. The CyberCop system will comprise three tools: FraudMonitor, which will sniff out fraud in online banking systems; BrandPointProtection, which will scan the Internet for signs of copyright infringement and phishing attacks; and the CyberCrimeMonitor, which will store and process the data the system gathers. Group-IB says the system, which it will market to banks, computer forensics organizations, and law enforcement agencies, will be ready to battle cybercrime in about a year and a half.
Romanian Cybercrooks Pinched in Massive Australian Credit Card Scam
The Herald Sun of Australia reported this week that law enforcement agencies from 13 countries collaborated to locate and arrest the members of an organized crime gang that had swiped the credit card data from more than a half million Australians. Australian banks agreed to pick up the tab for about A $30 million in fraudulent transactions. Among the arrested fraudsters, who all hail from Romania, are hackers who discovered vulnerabilities in the computer systems of 100 small Australian retailers. After the hackers exploited the security holes, other reputed members of the gang, including Greco-Roman wrestling champion Gheorghe “The Carpathian Bear” Ignat, used the data to create fake credit cards. Despite the loss of millions of dollars, the Australian Bankers Association insists that the vulnerability—which has since been closed—was limited to these merchants’ systems. The country’s online banking systems are secure, bankers’ association chief Steven Munchenberg told the Herald Sun.
Willie Jones is an associate editor at IEEE Spectrum. In addition to editing and planning daily coverage, he manages several of Spectrum's newsletters and contributes regularly to the monthly Big Picture section that appears in the print edition.