This Week in Cybercrime: Crackdown on Cyber Monday Counterfeits

Plus: A Russian group plans automated anti-cybercrime system; arrests made in a massive Australian credit card scam

2 min read
This Week in Cybercrime: Crackdown on Cyber Monday Counterfeits

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

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
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Carl De Torres
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When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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