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Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime
  Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc. 


The internet is like the Wild West in many ways. There are great opportunities, including opportunities for criminals. Malicious software, including viruses, spyware, trojans, and malicious websites, has gotten very sophisticated. It is now coming primarily from criminal organizations targeting people and companies with money. It is not just your computer that is at risk of infection, it is your bank account.

The goal of the criminal is to gain control of your computer to either use it in a network of “botnet” computers to work from, and/or to capture useful information about you and your finances.  This is done primarily by installing malicious software. The software creates a link between your computer and the criminal by opening up access in some way. Spyware passively sends information back to some criminal server about what you are doing, harvesting your email address list, capturing keystrokes, etc.  Trojan software opens up a connection that gives the criminal remote control, allowing them to do pretty much anything with your computer.

You get this malicious software in 4 main ways:

  1. Email attachments and cute downloads from the internet. When you click on something and allow it to install, either from email or from a web site or pop-up, be very sure you trust the source. Just clicking on an image on a web site can trigger an attempt to install a browser add-in.  Phishing attacks are emails which look like legitimate requests for information, crafted to get you to go to a malicious web site and do something. These are now being targeted at specific wealthy individuals and companies, combined with researching the target to use publicly available information as a basis for attack. (spear phishing). Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware software are essential. Common sense is your best defense.


  1. Flaws in software. Bad guys figure out ways to use programs already installed on your computer in ways that were never intended, usually exploiting “bugs” which allow them to hijack the program for their own uses. The biggest danger is flaws in Internet Explorer, which can cause you to give up control of your computer simply by browsing the internet. Recently criminals have been creating false web sites, and deliberately poisoning search results from Google, Yahoo, etc. so that people doing legitimate searches will be lead to their web sites, where they can try to exploit browser flaws to attack. Vendors issue updates to fix software flaws. You protect yourself by updating your computer.


  1. Connecting to your computer over the internet. If you hook your computer directly to the internet without a firewall, the tools that allow you to connect out to the internet also allow others to connect in to your computer. It now takes between 30 seconds and 5 minutes for an unprotected computer on the internet to be discovered and compromised.  You protect yourself by maintaining a firewall which blocks all outside connections except those you invite in. One of the most common ways this happens is insecure wireless networking.


  1. Social engineering. This covers all the non technical ways people gain access, including guessing your password, looking through your trash, calling up and asking for access, etc.  Easy to guess passwords include your kid’s and pet’s names, birthdates, and commonly used words.



Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com


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