Tag Archives: New York

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance speaks at a symposium called "Cybercrime in the World Today 2013" at Pace University in Manhattan on Feb. 28, 2013. Vance said that cybercrime is the fastest growing crime trend in New York. (Joshua Philipp/The Epoch Times)

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance speaks at a symposium called “Cybercrime in the World Today 2013” at Pace University in Manhattan on Feb. 28, 2013. Vance said that cybercrime is the fastest growing crime trend in New York. (Joshua Philipp/The Epoch Times)

You may want to think twice the next time you need money from a curbside ATM, deciding instead to pay for a meal with a credit card.NEW YORK—Prosecutions for cybercrime and identity theft in Manhattan have increased by 50 percent in the last five years, and criminals have been rigging ATM machines and scanning credit cards when no one is looking.

“Cybercrime is the fastest growing crime trend in New York, and around the country,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, during a symposium called “Cybercrime in the World Today 2013″ at Pace University on Feb. 28. “The Manhattan police precincts now record cybercrime and identity theft as their most frequently reported complaints.”

According to Vance, cybercrime is not just a growing trend—it is a fundamental shift in the way modern crime works. Modern crime has already reached a point where nearly every crime in the city involves a cybercomponent.

“It is rare that a case does not involve some kind of cyber or computer element that we prosecute in our office—whether it is homicide, whether it’s a financial crime case, whether it’s a gang case where the gang members are posting on Facebook where they’re going to meet,” said Vance.

The trend is not just small-time crooks acting on their own, either. Many local criminals are working with international hackers—often hired guns in the former Soviet Bloc who can help them con people from the other side of the world. Vance said that organized crime rings are also getting in on the game and are realizing that cybercrime is less risky—yet more lucrative—than even the drug trade.

Fighting Cybercrime

The situation is not all doom and gloom, however, and New York City is helping to lead the way in a cross-department battle against cybercrime.

“So what do we do about this, how can we stop it, what kind of recovery plans do we need to have in place?” said Pace University President Stephen Friedman during a speech at the symposium, citing recent news of cybercrime and Chinese hackers targeting U.S. critical infrastructure.

“I believe that answering those questions requires the kinds of cooperation and partnership that we see here today,” Friedman said.

The city is getting help from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), local businesses, and others. This system of cooperation was actually set up in 2001 when President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) into law. The act established the Electronic Crime Task Forces (ECTFs) under the Secret Service.

According to the Secret Service website, “The concept of the ECTF network is to bring together not only federal, state and local law enforcement, but also prosecutors, private industry and academia.”

The panel of speakers at the Feb. 28, 2013, "Cybercrime in the World Today 2013" symposium stand for a photo. (L-R) Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office Paul Mahon, Deloitte & Touche LLP Principal Kelly Bissell, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants CEO Helen Brand, Pace University Computer Information Systems Program Chair Dr. Darren Hayes, Federal Reserve Bank of New York Officer Joe Leonard, Co-founder of the Verizon Business Investigative Response Unit Christopher Novak, and Executive District Attorney and Chief of the Manhattan DA Investigation Division David Szuchman. (Joshua Philipp/The Epoch Times)

The panel of speakers at the Feb. 28, 2013, “Cybercrime in the World Today 2013” symposium stand for a photo. (L-R) Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office Paul Mahon, Deloitte & Touche LLP Principal Kelly Bissell, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants CEO Helen Brand, Pace University Computer Information Systems Program Chair Dr. Darren Hayes, Federal Reserve Bank of New York Officer Joe Leonard, Co-founder of the Verizon Business Investigative Response Unit Christopher Novak, and Executive District Attorney and Chief of the Manhattan DA Investigation Division David Szuchman. (Joshua Philipp/The Epoch Times)

The basic purpose of the ECTF, it states, “is the prevention, detection, mitigation and aggressive investigation of attacks on the nation’s financial and critical infrastructures.”

Paul Mahon, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office, who moderated the Pace event, said that his office is available to help local businesses with cybersecurity.

“For private industries, the Secret Service—through DHS and through the PATRIOT Act—has been mandated to reach out to you and help in any way that we can,” Mahon said. “There’s no cost associated with it.”

“If a small company does want to talk about their security system, we can give them free advice on how to best protect [their networks],” he added.

Digital Evidence

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office also received $4.2 million last year to build a cybercrime lab. It works as the city’s crime scene investigation lab for computers, where investigators can sift through data for evidence and search hacked hard drives for digital fingerprints.

Working with digital evidence is not easy, however. Computer forensics can be even more difficult to work with than physical evidence.

“You have to prove to the court that the data hasn’t been altered, that it does stand, and the accused was the one who should be standing trial,” Mahon said. “It’s a tumultuous process.”

At the end of the day, however, cybercrime is a new field for both criminals and law enforcement. Vance said that while more crime in New York is moving to the wires, through the cooperation between businesses, academia, and local and federal law enforcement, “we are in Manhattan having a lot of success.”

He said that when most of us think of “crime scenes,” television shows like “Law and Order” may come to mind—with yellow tape and the flashing lights of police cars. “But I think we all know today, the crime scene we think of is a different type of crime scene,” he said. “And now when I look back to the 1980s, when I was an assistant DA, we could not have had a more different picture of criminal trends in Manhattan than we do today,” Vance said. “Today, it’s identity theft and cybercrime. That’s what’s happening in every neighborhood around Manhattan, and I think, around the country.”

Nearly Every NYC Crime Involves Cyber, Says Manhattan DA | New York City | United States | Epoch Times.

Courtesy of Reuters/Lucas Jackson The Apple logo hangs in a glass enclosure above the 5th Ave Apple Store in New York, September 20, 2012.Courtesy of Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Apple Inc was recently attacked by hackers who infected Macintosh computers of some employees, the company said in an unprecedented disclosure describing the widest known cyberattacks targeting Apple computers used by corporations.

Unknown hackers infected the computers of some Apple workers when they visited a website for software developers that had been infected with malicious software. The malware had been designed to attack Mac computers.

The same software, which infected Macs by exploiting a flaw in a version of Oracle Corp’s Java software used as a plug-in on Web browsers, was used to launch attacks against Facebook, which the social network has disclosed.

Apple Hit by Hackers who Targeted Facebook | DFI News.

Courtesy of AP Photo/ThoughtWorks, Pernille Ironside This Dec. 8, 2012 photo provided by ThoughtWorks shows Aaron Swartz, in New York. Swartz, a co-founder of Reddit, hanged himself Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in New York City. In 2011, he was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an attempt to make them freely available. He had pleaded not guilty, and his federal trial was to begin next month. Courtesy of AP Photo/ThoughtWorks, Pernille Ironside

Federal prosecutors in Boston have dismissed charges against Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz, who was found dead in his New York apartment.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the lead prosecutor on the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann, filed a three-line notice of dismissal in court Monday.

The notice says the case is being dismissed because of Swartz’s death. Such filings are routine when a defendant dies before trial.

Swartz was indicted in 2011 on 13 counts, including wire fraud and computer fraud. Prosecutors alleged he illegally gained access to millions of academic articles through the academic database JSTOR. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

Swartz’s family says his suicide was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Charges Dismissed against Aaron Swartz | DFI News.

shutterstockWhen a cellphone is reported stolen in New York, the Police Department routinely subpoenas the phone’s call records, from the day of the theft onward. The logic is simple: If a thief uses the phone, a list of incoming and outgoing calls could lead to the suspect.

But in the process, the Police Department has quietly amassed a trove of telephone logs, all obtained without a court order, that could conceivably be used for any investigative purpose.

The call records from the stolen cellphones are integrated into a database known as the Enterprise Case Management System, according to Police Department documents from the detective bureau. Each phone number is hyperlinked, enabling detectives to cross-reference it against phone numbers in other files.

NYC Police Amassing Trove of Cellphone Logs | DFI News.

Cryptome.org hacked, unwillingly served malware to IE users

Famed whistleblower site Cryptome.org was hacked and infected with the nefarious Blackhole toolkit, unwittingly serving malware code targeting Windows machines that forced a complete restoration of the site by its owners.

New York based architect and scholar John Young, who launched the site many years ago, explained that the Blackhole code was found embedded into “every HTML file in the Cryptome main directory”, forcing a complete restoration from a clean copy of all the 6.000 files on the server.

The malware that was placed into Cryptome web code was designed to test the visitor’s browser in search of any available vulnerabilities before downloading a malicious executable file on the visitor’s computer. Apparently the malware only targeted Microsoft Internet Explorer users.

The complete restoration of the Cryptome files took some time, and now the service is completely clean. Furthermore, security research “mrkoot” has put together additional technical notes about the attack on his site.

The new attack against the Cryptome.org server is particular worrisome considering how sensitive the type of documents managed by its owners is. Founded in June 1996, the whistleblower site started collecting and publishing “prohibited” and even classified documents (freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, intelligence, and more) way before Wikileaks became a worldwide media sensation.

Cryptome.org hacked, unwillingly served malware to IE users – Neowin.net.