Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Skids Cybercrime

"Kids are more knowledgeable than their parents. What they have access to and the different forums they can go to, and the different things they can access, it would probably scare the average parent."
"These kids have this access to these forums and other places where they can get these kits with the malware and target things with it. It is a means for them to lash out and do things that are nefarious or cause a lot of angst with businesses and government organizations."
"Mom and Dad are out working and trying to make ends meet, and the kids have access to mobile devices and you name it, and they could be going into these darker areas to do bad things. If you look at what's going on in the market today, a lot of these kits are being provided to anybody who wants them. You can actually go to YouTube and find videos about how to use these malware kits."
"We encourage parents to start early, talking to your children about what it's like to be a good Net-citizen. Teach them good ethics and values so that they stay away from this. This is a challenging time for us."
Gary Davis, chief consumer security officer, McAfee, Intel Security
Computer Security Signpost Stock Photo
Why make anonymous telephone calls to people in the middle of the night, waking them from sound sleep to emit over the telephone ungodly laughter and send chills down their spines, or call them at dinnertime to ask whoever answers how they might respond to an innocent query then slap an insolent response in their ears to deafening laughter, when you can aim higher and mess up their computers? And why even focus on individual computers when you can access servers and websites making government agencies and big corporations scramble in panic at their Internet security compromised?

For smart young kids looking for a new kind of challenge in a new kind of universe, the World Wide Web has it over all other types of prospective mischief-making. And if the youths are looking to discharge their sense of social alienation and rage they can do quite a bit of damage to satisfy their sense of grievance. Cyber espionage is a problem, all right, with countries underwriting secret code enterprises and malware enabling commercial and national interests to be compromised. But the growing incidence of computer-literate youth with axes to grind also represent danger.

Website hijacking, swatting, credit card theft, fraud, the malicious spread of malware is increasingly engaged on by "script kiddie" enterprise. In Internet circles they're identified as "skid" attacks for the damage they cause to public institutions, government agencies, financial institutions, corporations in their search for victims and access to systems that have weak spots they are able to take advantage of. And, ultimately carefully boast about, adding to their credentials as nuisance predators online and in business.

The public furore as government agencies admit that their websites have been compromised, as businesses divulge that private customer data may have been compromised, appears to reward some nasty little impulse at the back of some peoples' minds where once they got their thrills stealing lawn furniture, hoisting it up onto roofs, or carrying it into public parks to be retrieved, or not, by the fuming owners. These website assaults are simply the 21st Century equivalent, the adventure calling to the little addicts of social maladaption.

Teenage bullies framing the victim for a hack that disrupted their privacy leading the victim to reach out on social media to explain that digital attacks were perpetrated by the very one who now accuses him of what he had suffered, and hoping that his story sounds believable enough. Access to high-speed Internet makes available a veritable stable of tools and anonymity services enabling even a kid with borderline technical skills to become a threat.

In 2014 McAfee Labs identified over 300 new threats surfacing each and every minute; over five new viruses, worms and threats per second. Malware surged by 76 percent year after year. Just as technology powers itself forward into new frontiers at lightning speed, so too do the malignant devices to baffle and infuriate the users of the technology rack up their diligent advances into a scarring enterprise. Sometimes, the parents who profess shame and surprise at their offsprings' devious dealings have themselves taught their kids computer science techniques.

As was the case with a 19-year-old university student from London, Ontario whose father is a university professor of computer science whose son became conversant with the Heartbleed vulnerability to break into Canada Revenue Agency servers. That data breach resulted in hundreds of Social Insurance Numbers along with tax information being stolen from the servers. That student now faces charges of mischief and unlawful use of a computer, charges that don't really sound equal to the serious nature of the attacks.

When a teenager from an Ottawa suburb was arrested for involvement in swatting calls -- false 911 calls to police -- all over North America, it was revealed in subsequent newspaper stories that his father is a computer technician who denies his son's involvement, insisting despite evidence to the contrary that the investigation represented a witch-hunt targeting his innocent child.

Cyberbullying represents yet another social problem of huge dimensions., an online youth-focused organization with over 3.1 million members globally reports that 43 percent of youth online report having been a victim of cyberbullying.

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