US China India Romania flagsLaw enforcement in four countries have managed to work together to take down a number of hackers-for-hire, all accused of operating websites present to break into email financial statement for a fee.
Arrests were made over the last week in the US, China, India and Romania, with customers of hacking services also picked up in the US, making a total of eleven arrests all told.
The target of the corresponding leap was a cluster of websites offering bespoke hacking services, mainly breaking into email and social networking sites for a variable fee. It’s not clear whether there was any connection between the sites or their operators, other than their public business model.
In the US, the FBI filed charges against five people, the main targets being two men from Arkansas idea to be behind the needapassword.com site.
The site is thought to have been involved in breaching over 6,000 email accounts. The men could face up to five-years jail time if found blameworthy.
The additional three defendants are accused of being customers of hacking sites. Two paid just over $1,000, while the third, from California, is alleged to have handed over more than $20,000 to a Chinese hacking site.
The Feds did not disclose whether this was the same site operated by Ying “Brent” Liu, who was picked up by Beijing police in link with another email hacking website, hiretohack.net, linked to around 300 account compromises. Local reports claim Liu “confessed all through examination”.
In the intervening time in India another man was under arrest, described by local law enforcement reports as only “a Pune based private person” but named by the FBI as Amit Tiwari and linked to two websites connected to over 900 email account breaches.
Lastly, Romanian police have picked up and charged four people regarding six unlike websites which may have been behind around 1,600 further account break-ins.
All in all it seems like a pretty successful operation, made all the more impressive by the complexities of international cybercrime law and the difficulties involved in coordinating action connecting several law enforcement agencies, all operating under different legal codes.
Cybercrime and law blogger Gary Warner called the cooperative effort “unparalleled” and a “great sign” of tough times to come for cybercrooks.
As well as given that details and screenshots of many of the sites involved, Warner also speculates that the Romanian haul may include the notorious celebrity-hacker known as Guccifer, before now thought to have been picked up last week.
Cybercrime is a worldwide problem and requires worldwide measures to combat it. As we’ve seen several times recently, the cyber cops of the world seem to be doing an ever superior job of working together, pooling information and assets and coordinating cases across borders to good result.
Hand and computer. Image courtesy of ShutterstockWe’re also seeing ever more action on the legal side of things, with countries from Pakistan to Nigeria effective on or finishing new laws to deal with cybercrime.
If President Goodluck Jonathan gets his way, the Nigerian proposal may even include the death sentence for cases involving dangerous transportation or loss of life, according to local information.
It’s significant for those drafting and favorable these laws to take into account the global nature of cybercrime, and make sure their local laws enable teamwork and collaboration with legal systems and enforcement agencies around the world.
So, it might be best to steer clear of punishments some might think a little great.
On a brighter note, if the trends demonstrated in the hackers-for-hire case continue, we could one day end up with a properly organized set of laws covering digital crimes all over the world, and a set of enforcement agencies to back them up, all working in unity.