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Cyber Crime Evolution
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      01-01-2008, 05:46 AM
Chances are high that you have received a phish in your e-mail within
the few months or even last week. By the time this book is published
and into your hands, the operations that involve phishing scams will
have accelerated due to aggressive malware propagation (trojans,
viruses), automated botnets, and the overall infrastructure that has
been established by these cyber-scammers.

So let's step back for a moment. Our world has changed significantly
since I was a kid. Just 10 years ago, the sophistication of hackers
and the tools available to them were somewhat limited from both the
national and international security perspective.Yes, there was cyber-
crime, no denying that, but not at the audacious level we are
experiencing today. Breaking into computer systems was motivated by
the need for exploration, information, and education.That was the
world of the late-night, for-fun hackers, which are now but a memory
(who would have thought we would be nostalgic for them one day!).

The hackers of the past are likely now working as information security
professionals, attempting to close the very same Pandora's box they
contributed to opening not too long ago.The knowledge contributed by
hackers today, also known as security researchers, are molded by
ethics and discipline; they are reticent to release their findings,
not because of "controversial" activity but because of the
responsibilities required to protect this double-edged sword. People
hackers and researchers call script kiddies are the principal breed of
criminals on the Internet today.They are usually young and not
terribly creative or skilled at hacking, but they have three
attributes that make them extremely dangerous: time, persistence, and
proof-of-concept code written by the creative and skilled security
researcher. These "kids" can and will scan the entire Internet,
breaking into computers (also known as owning a system) and using your
personal machines inappropriately and arbitrarily for their own

Ten years ago, most hackers were not looking at breaking into Windows
desktops (since most of them ran on a 14.4kbps modem); they were
usually targeting Windows NT and various flavors of UNIX
systems.Typically targeting corporate and government computers,
libraries, and universities, most cyber acts were usually performed
with benign intentions and curiosity as the primary motives.

With the recent proliferation of broadband, the targets have shifted
to literally anything and everything that is vulnerable. According to
the Internet Storm Center (, the average time for
a default unpatched Windows box to survive uncompromised on the
Internet is 20 minutes. But why break into my Windows computer if I
have nothing valuable on there? The intentions behind of most "break-
ins" today are utilitarian in nature, ranging from something as dense
as using your machine for hard drive space and bandwidth to store and
trade music files (MP3s) to supporting spammers' and phishers'
activities (most of these compromises are in the form of automated

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