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BEEF UP E-PATROLS OF WILD, WILD WEB

Hacker antics show the scary potential for fraud, blackmail

Source: Financial Post

Posted on April 29, 2000

      Is anyone else proud that "mafia-boy" is a Canadian?

      After all in a country where brains drain south, Canada can now boast that it has the world's biggest alleged E-criminal.

      "Mafiaboy" is the alias of the 15-year-old Montreal kid who is said to have shut down CNN Web sites using a clever set of programs and processes. And he was only caught because he couldn't help but brag about it on the Internet to a guy who he did not realize was a private investigator.

      Of course, his alias "mafiaboy" was curious until the Post carried the story last week that the RCMP arrested the kid's father at the same time it arrested the kid. Why? Because in the course of listening to phone taps at the home of "mafiaboy," police listened to his father allegedly plotting to injure someone seriously. So the world's first father-and-son unrelated arrests took place. The kid was charged with committing computer mischief and the father with conspiracy to commit assault.

      If convicted, the father should go to the slammer, but the kid should not go to jail. It would be much more intelligent policy to "sentence" him to working for the next five years with the RCMP and its computer investigations group.

      By the way, it's quite worrisome that a genius would have a criminally inclined father. It's amazing to me that more stories about computerized crime don't come along.

      For instance, if the ability to shut down a gigantic Web site or to hack into private computer files can be devised by a 15-year-old, think of the extortion demands that could be made. Pay or else.

      Another area of potential criminality is the pornographic industry on the Internet. Experts say that more than half of all hits on the Web are men hitting porn sites. They pay for this "service" by giving their credit cards.

      Because the porn business is run by criminals, this means that every guy who uses pay-per-peek is giving his name and credit card information to people who can blackmail him and/or create a counterfeit credit card for fraud purposes.

      Another scary aspect is the e-mail "romances" and correspondences that are becoming widespread. People are being lulled through this impersonal medium to divulge private or personal information to complete strangers. This can be dangerous, which is why there's a whole new need for e-cops or recruits like "mafiaboy." For instance, in some jurisdictions there are undercover e-cops posing as children in order to catch paedophiles prowling the net for victims. There are also e-patrolmen, or cops, that simply surf the Net and cruise in and out of the chat lines, looking for weird or dangerous or bogus postings by crooks or crazies.




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