[ISN] Hacker teenager pleads guilty
isn at c4i.org
Mon May 16 04:14:56 EDT 2005
By DAVID LEVINSKY
Burlington County Times
Away from the computer, investigators said Jasmine Singh looked and
acted like most any other 17-year-old.
In cyberspace, however, investigators said Singh was known both by his
online aliases "Jatt" and "Pherk" and for his reputation as a hacker
capable and willing to inflict havoc on computer systems of his or
The Middlesex County teenager pleaded guilty in state Superior Court
this month to carrying out a series of online attacks between July and
December 2004 that targeted a online clothing store based in Delran
and other e-commerce businesses, according to the New Jersey Attorney
The attacks caused the Delran business and some 2,000 other online
companies to suffer in excess of $1 million in damages and losses,
More troubling still, investigators say, is that the number of
so-called cyber criminals like Singh are on the rise and their schemes
are becoming more sophisticated.
"It's becoming a growing problem, and we're taking it very seriously,"
said Special Agent Timothy Nestor, supervisor of cyber crime
investigations at the FBI Field Office in Newark.
Hackers are no longer just bored teenagers trying to sneak into
computer networks for fun. There are now cyber mobs on the loose that
actively try to steal identities or extort companies with the threat
of malicious online attacks, he said.
Law enforcement has had to adapt, Nestor said, noting that cyber crime
is now the FBI's third highest priority behind counter-terrorism and
counter-intelligence. "We're pouring lots and lots of resources into
this," he said.
The Singh case was an example of an online attack called a denial of
service or DOS. During a DOS, an attacking computer program, called a
"bot net," is used to flood the victim's computer network with large
amounts of data or specific commands, causing it to overload and
According to a U.S. Department of Justice survey, DOS attacks like the
one committed by Singh caused $26 million in losses last year, and
Nestor said many hackers now use the threat of them to try to extort
money or services. He said Singh's case was one of only a few
instances where a hacker was "contracted" to conduct an attack against
According to investigators and court papers, Singh was hired over the
Internet by 18-year-old Jason Arabo of Southfield, Mich., to conduct
the DOS attacks against Delran-based Jersey-Joe.com and other online
companies that sell retro sports apparel in competition with his own
online businesses, www.customleader.com and www.jerseydomain.com.
In return for conducting the attacks, Arabo, who used the computer
aliases "cl.com" and "Jaytheplaya," paid Singh in sneakers, sports
jerseys and jewelry, according to court papers.
Officials from Jersey-Joe.com declined to comment on the attacks.
FBI investigators were informed of the attacks by Jersey-Joe.com and,
with assistance from the New Jersey State High Technology Crimes Unit,
were able to trace the attacks to Singh and Arabo.
Singh, who was tried as an adult, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12
for second-degree computer theft in connection with the attacks. The
charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
Arabo was charged in March with conspiring to transmit a program to
damage a computer. He is currently free on a $50,000 bond, authorities
Nestor said another problem cyber crime is "phishing" - an
identity-theft ruse involving official-looking e-mails and Web sites
that solicit personal information such as computer passwords, Social
Security numbers, credit-card numbers and other forms of financial
data from unsuspecting computer users.
A report last year by Gartner Inc., an information technology market
research firm, estimated phishing cost U.S. banks and credit card
issuers about $1.2 billion in 2003. At least 2,870 active phishing
sites were reported in March, according to the Anti-Phishing Working
Group, a nonprofit organization of corporations and government
agencies trying to eliminate cyber fraud and identity theft.
Nestor said most phishing schemes now originate with organized crime
syndicates that work and communicate almost solely via the Internet.
Members of one such "cyber mob" that was broken up last year were
charged with stealing and selling approximately 1.7 million credit
card numbers that generated total losses in excess of $4 million.
Just as cyber crooks are becoming more sophisticated, Nestor said
federal investigators are also developing new methods to detect and
trace their infringements. He said state, county, and local law
enforcement agencies are also now getting involved in cyber crime
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