On Defense

As we all know, cyber-attacks and cyber-crime have been prevalent for quite some time now.  Due to the constant turn of technology, we are unfortunately seeing more and more cyber-attacks and cyber-terrorism acts every day.  The article I read for this week’s blog dealt with NATO stepping up its cyber-defense.  According to Ian Wishart and Bloomberg of the Chicago Tribune, “defense ministries across Europe are stepping up security and intelligence-sharing in a bid to head off potentially lethal cyber-strikes by rogue states and terrorists on public and military targets” (2015, para. 3).  One part of the week-long exercise to test out new cyber-defense techniques involved an Internet attack that froze military commanders’ radar screens, making them unable to see anything that was coming toward them (Wishart & Bloomberg, 2015, para. 2).  NATO’s main concern right now is that terrorist groups are not only going to stick to traditional terrorism acts, but also move to cyber-warfare.  The terrible thing about cyber-warfare is that it can affect anyone in any place at any time.  You do not have to specifically be where the perpetrator of the cyber-warfare is geographically located.  For instance, someone could commit cyber-warfare in Mexico and it could still affect someone else who lives in Italy.  NATO is working hard to combat the possible cyber-attacks.  “Simulations at the exercises at Tartu, also include the deliberate crashing of air-force monitoring equipment and the compromising of security information through a computer worm planted on a USB stick” (Wishart & Bloomberg, 2015, para. 6).  Britain is also looking into better cyber-defense to counter possible attacks.  Before cyber-attacks became prevalent, NATO did not really focus on cyber-defense tactics.  NATO realizes now that cyber-warfare is a very real thing, and something needs to be done immediately to combat whatever may happen.

I found this article rather interesting.  I thought that NATO would have already been on top of their cyber-defense game but after reading this article, it appears otherwise.  However, they are doing the appropriate thing and taking the right steps to have a better defense system in the cyber world.  Especially in today’s day and age, with new technology turning over daily, everyone needs to step up their cyber-defense tactics.  You never know what could happen.  Cyber-attacks and cyber-warfare does not only affect computers.  It can affect news stations, power sources, and as stated above, air-force monitoring equipment.  That is why cyber-warfare is so scary.  Anything that is electronic is not safe.  Personal cell phones could be shut off as well, or programmed to do something other than what the owner intended.  Everything that I have learned in this class has taught me to be more careful about using technology and to always be aware of what is going on.  Since technology is up and coming so rapidly, maybe everyone should have to take a course on the dangers of cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism.  I am sure it would benefit a lot of people.  It is just scary because anything can happen and you might not even know it.

Wishart, I. & Bloomberg. (2015). NATO testing its cyber-defense firepower. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-nato-a5df8bde-8f80-11e5-934c-a369c80822c2-20151120-story.html


Digital Forensics to the Rescue

The article I read for this week’s blog was pretty intense and incredibly disturbing.  A child porn ring called “Dreamboard” was shut down, and dozens were arrested.  This did happen a couple of years ago.  Dreamboard had extremely graphic pictures of young children in explicit poses.  It also featured children getting molested by the users on this site.  Although this is extremely unsettling and makes me cringe, I am very happy that the site has been shut down.  According to NBC News, “A total of those 62 charged have been arrested on five continents, including 43 in the U.S.” (2011, para. 4).  This was deemed “the largest prosecution ever of an online child pornography operation” (NBC News, 2011, para. 2).  All of the children who were a part of this disgusting site have been found and were brought to safety.  “The computers hosting the site were on American soil”, specifically in Georgia (NBC News, 2011, para. 8).  One man who was a part of this ring was a football coach in Buena Vista, Virginia.  The man was arrested on July 15, 2011.

It is so incredibly disturbing to me that anyone could victimize a child.  It is bad enough to victimize an adult, but an innocent child who does not understand what is going on; well that is just unacceptable.  All of the people who were involved in that porn ring should be in prison for life.  The article stated that one man only received thirty years in prison.  I think that is just completely and utterly unacceptable.  These terrible people have taken away something from these kids forever, and they need to be suitably punished for that.  It honestly makes me sick to think that these terrible people will one day be released from prison.  Who is to say they won’t victimize another child?

This article ties into Chapter 13 because it deals with digital forensics.  The investigators who located this child porn ring and arrested those 62 people had to use digital forensics to do so.  According to the National Institute of Justice, common evidence that is found in child exploitation cases include: “video and still photo cameras and media, digital camera software, Internet activity records, notes or records of chat sessions, and web cameras or microphones” (Taylor, 2015, p. 307).  The investigators in the case above most definitely utilized most, if not all, of that evidence.  I am sure that the perpetrators’ Internet activity records and their chat sessions were definitely logged.  Also, all of the pictures and videos on the site were probably loaded onto a hard drive for the investigators to take to court.  Even though all of those pictures and videos would be more than difficult to see, the investigators need to have those in order to charge the child molesters.  The perpetrators’ cell phones could probably be taken as well.  There might be incriminating evidence on their cellular devices.  When investigators are able to obtain all of the evidence listed above, they are sure to be able to put away criminals.

NBC News. (2011). ‘Living horror’: dozens charged in international child porn ring. Retrieved from http://www.today.com/id/44002915/ns/today-today_news/t/living-horror-dozens-charged-international-child-porn-ring/#.VlO2CXarTIU

Taylor, Robert W. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism. N.p.: Pearson.

Taking Victims One Ransomware Scam at a Time

Computer crime increasingly becomes a bigger problem every day.  The federal, state, and local agencies have put a greater emphasis on their efforts to combat the crime.  The FBI has a web site that contains stories concerning computer crimes.  These stories range from actual events that have occurred, warnings about computer crime, and how to stay safe from computer viruses and what not.  The article I read specifically deals with Ransomware.  Ransomware scams “involve a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information unless a ransom […] is paid” (FBI & Partners, 2015, para. 2).  These ransomware scams do not only target home computers; they target other organizations such as government agencies and businesses.  The ransom that is wanted can be anywhere from hundreds or thousands of dollars.  The main goal is to achieve a high monetary value.  According to the FBI and Partners working to combat this cyber threat, “ransomware has been around for several years, but there’s been a definite uptick lately in its use by cyber criminals” (2015, para. 4).  In the beginning when ransomware was first seen, people’s computers were getting infected from opening emails that contained viruses.  Now, computers are usually infected with ransomware by going to web sites and clicking on compromising links that in turn infect their computer (FBI & Partners, 2015, para. 5).  Victims of ransomware scams are often asked to pay the ransom using Bitcoins, according to the FBI and Partners (2015, para. 6).  Bitcoins are virtual money.  One of the worst types of ransomware scams, in my opinion, is the one that is able to turn off cellular devices and lock them until the ransom is paid.

A problem that we have today with combating cybercrime is the fact that some state and local agencies just do not have the appropriate equipment to defend against them.  According to Taylor, there are “four ‘critical needs’: (1) training, (2) equipment, (3) updated criminal codes designed to complement current enforcement efforts, and (4) resources for tapping federal expertise and equipment related to computer crime enforcement” (2015, p. 269).  Law enforcement officers who are dealing with cybercrime must be trained correctly.  The lack of training stems from the lack of equipment that the law enforcement officers are able to use to train.  This should be changed in order for law enforcement officers to combat computer crimes.

I wish that it was easier for federal, state and local agencies to fight computer crime, especially since it is a growing crime.  Maybe the federal agencies could help train the state agencies or loan out their equipment in order for them to be properly trained.  Once the state agencies understand how to combat computer crime, then they could help teach the local agencies.  All of the agencies need to work together to fight this crime.  Ransomware scams are serious and unfortunately take a lot of victims.  Training needs to be amped up in order to make a difference.

FBI & Partners. (2015). Ransomware on the rise. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/january/ransomware-on-the-rise/ransomware-on-the-rise

Taylor, Robert W. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism. N.p.: Pearson.

Warrants and Electronic Sniffing Dogs

In order for law enforcement to catch criminals, more often than not, they have to perform searches and seizures.  Law enforcement officers perform searches and seizures in order to obtain evidence for trial.  However, law enforcement officers cannot just walk into someone’s home and seize evidence.  They must first obtain a warrant to search said area.  In order to be issued a search warrant, law enforcement officers have to prove that “a crime has been committed, evidence of the crime exists, and the evidence presently exists in the place to be searched” (Taylor, 2015, p. 241).  There are some situations where law enforcement officers do not need a warrant in order to search an area.  Law enforcement officers are permitted to search an area without a warrant in exigent circumstances.  Exigent circumstances are simply emergency situations.  For instance, law enforcement officers do not need a warrant if any evidence is in danger of being destroyed, the perpetrator is about to flee, or if anyone is in any immediate danger.  Other warrantless searches include stop and frisks, plain view, search incident to arrest, and consent searches.  Stop and frisks allow law enforcement officers to frisk a person while interviewing them on the street for the officer’s protection.  Plain view allows law enforcement officers to use anything that is in plain view to their senses as evidence without a warrant.  Search incident to arrest allows law enforcement officers to search an individual after arresting them for the officer’s safety.  Consent searches are simply when an individual gives a law enforcement officer consent to perform a search.  With consent searches an individual can retract his or her consent at any given time during the search.

When law enforcement officers are trying to obtain evidence through electronic communication, it gets a little trickier.  A few laws and statutes have been put in place to make sure the government is not overstepping their boundaries.  For example, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was put in place to “regulate how the government can obtain stored account information from network service providers such as ISPs” (Taylor, 2015, p. 248).  The main goal is to ensure citizens’ right of privacy is not infringed upon.

In the article I read, it discusses evidence found in Jared Fogle’s house.  The police obtained a search warrant for Fogle’s house and brought along a dog trained to sniff out electronics.  You read that right; a dog that can sniff out electronics.  The police dog, Bear, found “a key piece of evidence in the Jared Fogle child pornography investigation…” (Balca, 2015, para. 1).  Bear was able to find a USB that had been hidden in Fogle’s house.  The USB contained vital information and ultimately led to Fogle’s guilty plea.

I never would think that a dog could sniff out electronics.  I always associated dogs with sniffing out drugs or following a person’s scent.  I do find it really interesting and awesome that Bear was able to do that.  He found information that no human was able to find!

Balca, D. (2015). Electronics-sniffing police dog uncovered key evidence in Jared Fogle child porn case. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/electronics-sniffing-police-dog-uncovered-key-evidence-in-jared-fogle-child-porn-case-1.2529927

Taylor, Robert W. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism. N.p.: Pearson.

Domestic Terrorist Groups Target Children

The Internet allows for anyone to post almost anything that they please on it.  Often times what people post online is not always good.  According to Taylor, “domestic terrorist groups that pose a threat in the United States are strongly entrenched in cyberspace” (2015, p. 224).  Animal rights groups, Neo-Nazis, militias, etc. are all on the Internet.  The Internet provides a space for these groups of people to communicate and form comraderies (Taylor, 2015, p. 224).  Without the Internet, these groups would not interact the way they do today.  Unfortunately this allows these groups to reach out to others and recruit.  Having a web site allows people to browse through whatever group they choose to, without physically having to go to one of their meetings.  This is dangerous because anyone can see these web sites; even children.

Often times these domestic terrorist groups use pictures on their web sites.  They try to dehumanize the enemy by posting pictures, games, or music on their web sites (Taylor, 2015, p. 224).  If people are continuously exposed to graphic images or violent games, they will begin to have the same views as the people who produced said images.  Sometimes these domestic terrorist groups reach out to children and try to drag them in.  Children are easy targets because their way of thinking is very malleable.  For example, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has a web site specifically for children called, www.PETAkids.com.  According to Kyle Olsen, founder of the Education Action Group, a fourth grade class was sent home with a pamphlet that had been directly lifted from PETA’s web site, www.PETAkids.com (2014, para. 2).  In New York, a fourth grade teacher sent home a reading exercise for her students titled, “Should Animals Be Kept in the Classroom?”.  The reading basically stated that teachers who bring animals in for their students abuse and neglect the animals.  It continued on with explicit content regarding “a snake being microwaved, chinchillas being beaten, acid being poured on pigs and a lamb being duct-taped to the outside of the building…” (Olsen, 2014, para. 7).  Mind you, these are fourth graders reading this material.  The teacher responsible for this claims this was just part of their ‘Common Core’ readings.

I think what that teacher did was completely wrong.  Yes, it is good for children to know what is going on in the world, but I think making them read PETA articles is taking it too far.  I am an adult and PETA articles still bother me.  I cannot fathom what those children felt or thought when they read about that.  Also the fact that PETA has a web site just for children disgusts me.  I am not saying that animal abuse is right, but PETA is way too graphic for children.  I think they are definitely crossing the line, and I am sure that they know exactly what they are doing.  Domestic terrorist groups are dangerous because they are able to post explicit content and essentially brain wash people into believing the same things that they do.  These web sites should be monitored more.

Olsen, K. (2014). Fourth-graders get PETA propaganda disguised as common core. Retrieved from http://eagnews.org/fourth-graders-forced-to-read-graphic-peta-propaganda-under-the-guise-of-common-core/

Taylor, Robert W. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism. N.p.: Pearson.

The Very Real Consequences of Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is when someone harasses or bullies another individual through social media, text messages, email, or any other devices.  The main goal of cyber bullying is to hurt someone and make them feel badly about themselves.  Cyber bullying is a more recent cyber-crime.  It is very popular among teenagers.  According to Taylor, the Pew Research Center found that “About one-third of teens who use the Internet report having been a target” of cyber bullying (2015, p. 181).  Teens are at a high risk of being bullied via the Internet while they are on social media Web sites.  Both boys and girls are victims of cyber bullying, but girls tend to suffer more from it.  The Pew Research Center stated that “Girls aged 15-17 reported more victimizations than did boys and/or younger teens” (Taylor, 2015, p. 181).  Unfortunately, often times victims of cyber bullying will not report it to anyone.  Teens are more prone to talk about being a victim of cyber bullying with friends rather than with law enforcement officers.  One of the reasons that victims do not report being cyber bullied is because they know that they are able to avoid said social media site that the bullying is occurring on.  Cyber bullying can be more detrimental than conventional bullying.  Cyber bullies are able to hide behind a computer screen or a phone, so if they have a fake name online then their chances of getting caught are slim.  Sadly, many victims of cyber bullying commit suicide.

In the article I read, a twelve year old girl committed suicide by jumping to her death, because she was being cyber bullied.  Rebecca Sedwick, the twelve year old who committed suicide, had been bullied by two girls in school.  Her mother made Rebecca transfer to a different school, which she thought would help.  Unfortunately, it did not.  The two girls were using Kik and Ask.fm to bully Rebecca.  According to Kelly Wallace, CNN’s digital correspondent, the bullies were sending Rebecca hurtful messages such as, “Why aren’t you dead?  You should die.  Go kill yourself” (2015, para. 1).  The two bullies, who are twelve and fourteen years old, are now “charged with felony aggravated stalking” (Wallace, 2015, para. 5).

Cyber bullying is nothing to take lightly at all.  Too many teenagers are committing suicide from being cyber bullied.  Even when teens are not committing suicide as a result of cyber bullying, they still suffer from emotional stress.  I am glad that those two girls received such heavy charges for what they have done.  I believe that cyber bullying is a very serious thing and it definitely needs to be punished as a serious crime.  Parents need to be more cautious of the social media and Web sites that their children are using.  Often times the parents do not even know about the Web site, social media, or app that is being used as the cyber bully’s tool.  Parents and children should be more open with each other so that they can stop cyber bullying before it occurs.

Taylor, Robert W. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism. N.p.: Pearson.

Wallace, K. (2015). Parents, beware of bullying on sites you’ve never seen. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/10/living/parents-new-apps-bullying/

Malware isn’t Always Bad

Viruses and malware started out as innocent noncriminal things.  Malware programs were simply used to advertise or even make jokes.  Unfortunately that has changed, and now malware and viruses are malicious programs that can destroy computer systems.  Malicious malware is used to steal people’s identities, their private personal information, and can be used to shut down legitimate Web sites.  In order to steer clear from viruses and malware, many people download virus software on their computers.  Even though virus software is designed to shut down and find things that may compromise the computer system, viruses are able to slip in anyway.  Viruses are often passed through emails or links that people open up on their computers.

Although viruses and malware are typically bad things, there is one that seems to be more of a vigilante than a criminal.  According to Eduard Kovacs of Security Week, back in November of 2014 a piece of malware named “Linux.Wifatch” infected a researcher’s computer system.  Now this malware has infected an incredible amount of systems across the world.  The odd thing about this malware is that it does not seem to be malicious.  The malware has actually taken on the role of a vigilante.  “Wifatch seems to scan the Web for devices that it can infect over Telnet likely using weak credentials” (Kovacs, 2015, para. 3).  The person in charge of Wifatch “is using it to scan the device of known malware families based on their signatures, and disables telnet to keep others out” (Kovacs, 2015, para. 5).  This helps Telnet users to avoid more attacks on his or her device.  Most of the devices that have been infected by Wifatch are IP cameras and routers.  The creator of Wifatch has taken many precautions and made sure that no one is able to take over his creation.  According to Mario Ballano, a Symantec researcher, the creator of Wifatch “seems to be an expert in cryptography and he has taken the necessary measures to prevent takeovers” (Kovacs, 2015, para. 11).  No one is sure who the creator of Wifatch is and he or she is extremely difficult to find.  Although Wifatch has not shown any malicious activity, it is possible that the malware could become malicious.

I find it quite interesting that the malware Wifatch is not malicious.  Everyone usually expects viruses and malware to be terrible things that can compromise a computer system.  We honestly need more people like the creator of Wifatch to make sure no computer system or device is being compromised.  He or she should be praised for his or her accomplishments; unless of course Wifatch becomes malicious and begins compromising devices and computer systems.  Wifatch should be monitored as well as possible in order to make sure it does not turn into a malicious malware program.  However, everyone should definitely have malware and virus protection on their computers to help prevent their computer system or devices from being infected.  Also, people should be more cautious when they are opening email or links on their devices.

Kovacs, E. (2015). Tens of thousands of routers, IP cams infected by vigilante malware. Retrieved from: http://www.securityweek.com/tens-thousands-routers-ip-cams-infected-vigilante-malware