Hacking has been in the news quite a bit lately with government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and private businesses such as Target and Home Depot falling victim to cyber intruders.
Who are these people poking around in restricted areas and accessing information that is supposedly private? What exactly do they want? A recent case gives us a measure of insight into the world of hacking.
A man in a faraway Asian country was just given a lengthy prison sentence for stealing the identities of millions of Americans and selling the information he acquired to other criminals.
Bank account numbers
He typically would package stolen information including names, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and bank routing numbers. Also stolen and sold were payment card data like card numbers, expiration dates, CVV numbers, names, addresses and phone numbers.
He operated from his home in Southeast Asia. Once he got his hands on identity information, he offered it for sale on Internet marketplaces to thousands of hackers around the world.
One law enforcement professional said that such people consider dealing in stolen identity information to be a low-risk, high-reward proposition.
The Asian man offered buyers the opportunity to search online databases for information on specific individuals. He claimed to have data on 200 million U.S. citizens.
Many of the victims of the IRS intrusion had fraudulent income tax returns filed in their names.
Extradited to the United States
The man made millions on this scheme. Fortunately, the U.S. Secret Service got busy and shut him down. He was arrested and extradited to the United States. He has pleaded guilty and is being severely punished.
The people who trade in identities are not high school kids living in their parents’ basement. They are professional criminals who are able to stay a step ahead of security measures. They are making life difficult for all of us.
For that reason it’s time to devote sufficient resources to the development of the technology needed to stop them and their illegal rackets. In addition, law enforcement must be given free rein in their efforts to bring these criminals to justice.