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This chapter is from the book

Key Points

  • Internet crime is a serious problem that causes real economic damage and major losses for the victims.
  • The principle vectors for Internet crime are spam and zombie botnets.
    • Spam allows the Internet criminals to reach a large audience. The spam may be a direct solicitation for a criminal fraud or part of a larger scheme.
    • A zombie is a computer that has been taken over by a criminal. A botnet is a network of zombie computers controlled by a criminal.
      • Computer criminals use compromised computers to hide their tracks in the same way that bank robbers use stolen cars as getaway vehicles.
      • Turning a computer into a zombie allows the criminal to effectively steal the computer while the owner still pays for the electricity and network connection.
  • Internet crimes are typically variations of traditional crimes—often confidence tricks.
    • Phishing is stealing credentials, usually credit card numbers or usernames and passwords for online bank accounts.
    • Carding is the process of turning stolen credentials into cash.
      • Package reshippers receive stolen goods and forward them on to the criminal gangs.
      • Money movers perform money laundering.
      • "Mules" are recruited into these schemes through online advertisements for work-at-home schemes.
    • Internet criminals also operate protection rackets.
      • If the victim refuses to pay, his site is targeted by a denial of service attack.
    • Advance fee frauds induce the mark to pay an upfront fee in the hope of realizing a large profit.
      • The letters that offer to share $20 million are advance fee frauds.
      • Other variations include lotteries that ask for an upfront fee and re-victimization fraud.
      • The victims of these scams are often seniors with large retirement savings.
    • Terrorists are unlikely to use the Internet for political direct action, but Internet crime may be an attractive means of raising money.
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