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Monday, July 15, 2013

Terrorism and Online Identity Theft

Part One:  Terrorism and Technology

 CyberTerrorist Group - Anonymous :

     Anonymous is a cyber terrorist group that originally started from a small grassroots level in 2003 and has since propagated to a sophisticated organization with members from all over the world.   It is a leaderless decentralized community which was originated on the Internet and is known for its hacks and DDoS attacks on various government, religious, and corporate websites.   By using "Memes", which can be anything from smiley faces to evil ideas, members of Anonymous "operated in (online) disguise and have been known to transmit terrorist memes through online channels such as imageboards, chatrooms, and even YouTube videos" (ExtermisProject, 2013).
      A meme is defined as a "unit of culture" (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is "hosted" in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself; thereby jumping from mind to mind.  “Memetic engineering” is currently being studied to determine the effects of 'memes' on human behavior.  It is this memetic effect that Anonymous is attempting to utilize in their attempt to create cyber terrorism (ExtermisProject, 2013).

     Throughout the past two decades or so, they have perpetrated numerous attacks such as the 4chan raids (2004-2007), Encyclopedia Dramatica (2004-present), Project Chanology (2008), and Operation Payback Is a Bitch in 2010.  In the years since, Anonymous has continued their barrage of Hacks, DDOS attacks and protests with the intended goal and results being mass mayhem throughout the digital world.  (ExtermisProject, 2013)
     Anonymous has also attacked such websites as Amazon.com, PayPal.com, the website of Gene Simmons of Kiss, the US Copyright Office, the British law firm ACS:Law, the British nightclub Ministry of Sound, and the Spanish copyright society sgae.es. (ExtermisProject, 2013)
     In countries such as Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the U.S.A, dozens of people have been arrested for their involvement in Anonymous since 2009.  The first to be jailed was Dmitriy Guzner, an American nineteen-year-old, for his role in a DDOS attack  on The Church of Scientology’s computer systems that had been sanctioned by Anonymous.  His charge was the "unauthorized impairment of a protected computer". In November 2009 he was sentenced to 366 days in US federal prison. (Corbett, 2009)
     While new laws which have recently been proposed by the National Security Council and the Obama Administration, such as The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, are trying to put a stop to the growing leak in online security, which is producing such extremist groups as Anonymous, more study of these groups is needed to increase global awareness and new laws need to be constructed to fill the gaps in the legal system that do not cover the development of technology as it is today. 

Part Two:  Identity Theft

     Case #1:  “Nicole McCabe Assassinates a War Criminal”

     This is the case of Nicole McCabe who was an Australian woman living in Israel.  One day she heard over the radio that she was one of 26 people implicated in the assassination of Hamas chief Mahmoud-al-Mabhoud in Dubai, India.  Although she had not left Israel in months, Interpol added her to their most-wanted list.
     After further investigation, the assassination was linked to an elite Israeli covert force named Mossad.  Mossad had stolen the passports of 26 individuals and gave them to the assassins so that they could enter Dubai.  It just happened to be that Nicole McCabe’s was one of those passports.
     Even though McCabe and the other victims of the crime were eventually found to be innocent, they were still held accountable.  Neither the Australian embassy nor the international community would help them, other than to provide them with new passports although it seems the information that was gathered to create the false passports for the terrorists did not actually come from the originals - it had been gathered from an outside source such as off of the internet - meaning that there was nothing that any of them could have done to prevent the theft. 
     Unfortunately, many places on the internet that deal with the public require sensitive information such as address, phone number, social security number in order to do business.  Not all security systems are equal and even the touted 128 bit encryption can today readily be cracked with a dedicated program.  In essence, this is a vulnerability for identity theft to occur where little or nothing can be done to prevent it short of not dealing over the internet and only paying cash for purchases. (Hahn, 2012)

     Case #2: “Harrun Majeed Buys Some Pizza”

     Harrun Majeed, a 14-year veteran of the Navy bought his son a birthday cake at a local Publix supermarket.  When he got home, he came to realize that his credit card was missing.  Suspecting that he had dropped it somewhere, he immediately called his bank to report the lost card and cancelled it.
     The bank informed Majeed that the card had already been used to buy two pizzas in the same shopping center that the Publix was in.  He surmised that he had dropped the card in the parking lot and someone had picked it up and bought the pizzas.  Majeed called the authorities and reported the fraud.  When the police arrived at the restaurant to investigate, they found the thief still there waiting for his pizza.
     Incredibly, the thief turned out to be a Dr. Richard Ludwig, a dentist with a net worth of about $3 or 4 million.  Even more incredible, he had about $250 in cash in his wallet at the time of his arrest.  He had even signed the slip using his own name.
     Luckily, Majeed had the charges reversed and his card was reimbursed for the $40 that Ludwig had charged.
     Majeed could have avoided all of this if he had a) immediately put his card away in his wallet, b) made sure that he had his card when he got into his vehicle or c) used cash to make his purchase. (Hahn, 2012)
 Resources:


Matusitz, Jonathan and Woolford, Thomas. ExtremisProject. Cyberterrorism Group Anonymous at Forefront of Research. February 13, 2013. http://extremisproject.org/2013/02/cyberterrorism-group-anonymous-at-forefront-of-research/.


Hahn, Amanda and Holmes, Chris. Cracked.com. The 8 Creepiest Cases of Identity Theft of All Time. 2012. http://www.cracked.com/article_19973_the-8-creepiest-cases-identity-theft-all-time.html.


Corbett, Nic. The New Jersey Star Ledger. 11/16/2009. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/verona_man_admits_hacking_chur.html.