Darkmarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You

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9781847921260: Darkmarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You
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The benefits of living in a digital, globalised society are enormous; so too are the dangers. The world has become a law enforcer's nightmare and every criminal's dream. We bank online, shop online, date, learn, work and live online. But have the institutions that keep us safe on the streets learned to protect us in the burgeoning digital world? Have we become complacent about our personal security - sharing our thoughts, beliefs and the details of our daily lives with anyone who cares to relieve us of them? In this fascinating and compelling book, Misha Glenny, author of the international bestseller "McMafia", explores the three fundamental threats facing us in the 21st century: cyber crime, cyber warfare and cyber industrial espionage. Governments and the private sector are losing billions of dollars each year, fighting an ever-morphing, often invisible, often super-smart new breed of criminal: the hacker. Glenny has travelled and trawled the world. And by exploring the rise and fall of the criminal website, "DarkMarket", he has uncovered the most vivid, alarming and illuminating stories. Whether JiLsi or Matrix, Iceman, Master Splynter or Lord Cyric; whether Detective Sergeant Chris Dawson in Scunthorpe or Agent Keith Mularski in Pittsburgh, Glenny has tracked down and interviewed all the players - the criminals, the geeks, the police, the security experts and the victims - and he places everyone and everything in a rich brew of politics, economics and history. The result is simply unputdownable. "DarkMarket" is authoritative and completely engrossing. It's a must-read for everyone who uses a computer: the essential crime book for our times.

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About the Author:

Misha Glenny is a distinguished journalist and historian. As the Central Europe Correspondent first for the Guardian and then for the BBC, he chronicled the collapse of communism and the wars in the former Yugoslavia. He won the Sony Gold Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting. The author of four books, including the acclaimed McMafia, he has been regularly consulted by the US and European governments on major policy issues and ran an NGO for three years, assisting with the reconstruction of Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo. He now lives in London. website: www.darkmarketinsider.com twitter: @MishaGlenny

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
AN INSPECTOR CALLS

Yorkshire, England, March 2008

The Reverend Andrew Arun John was in a minor state of shock one morning in early March 2008. Hard to blame him. Not only had he just survived the long journey from Delhi in cattle class, but it was two weeks before the opening of Heathrow’s new Terminal 5, and the world’s busiest international airport was exploring new standards in passenger misery. His fl ight had left India around three o’clock in the morning and, after negotiating passport control and the baggage mayhem, he still had to face a four-hour drive north to Yorkshire.

Switching on his mobile phone, Reverend John saw he had an inordinate number of missed calls from his wife. And before he’d had time to call back to ask her what the fuss was about, she was ringing again. She told him that the police had telephoned several times and were desperate to get in touch with him. Taken aback and confused, the Reverend replied sharply to his wife, saying that she was talking nonsense – though he regretted his tone almost immediately.

His wife, happily, chose to ignore his grumpiness. Clearly and calmly, she explained that the police had wanted to alert him to the fact that somebody had broken into his bank account, that this was a matter of urgency and that he should ring the number she had for the offi cer in charge as soon as possible.

His wife’s call unsettled the Reverend still further and his weary brain went into overdrive. ‘Who has broken into my account?’ he wondered. ‘What account? My Barclays here?’ he speculated. ‘My Standard Bank account in South Africa? Or my ICICI one in India?
Or maybe all three?’ Even more puzzling: what did she actually mean? ‘How have they broken into my account?’

Coming so soon after his exhausting flight, the whole affair made the Reverend anxious and edgy. ‘I’ll deal with this later when I get to Bradford and after I’ve rested,’ he muttered to himself.

Bradford is 200 miles north of Heathrow Airport. Sixty miles due east of the city lies Scunthorpe, where Detective Sergeant Chris Dawson’s small team was nervously awaiting the Reverend John’s phone call. The officer began to feel he was sinking in the quicksand of a case that he suspected was very big, and which presented him with one seemingly insuperable problem – he couldn’t get his head round it. The evidence gathered so far included hundreds of thousands of computer files, some of which were large enough to hold the complete works of Shakespeare 350 times over. Inside these documents lay a planetary library of numbers and messages in a language that was effectively indecipherable to all but a tiny elite around the world who are trained in the arcane terminology of cybercrime. DS Dawson may have known nothing about that novel and particularly rarefied branch of criminal investigation, but he was a first-class homicide officer with many years of service behind him. He could detect among the endless lists and number strings an agglomeration of sensitive data, which should not be in the possession of a single individual.

Yet as police offi cers in many parts of the world were discovering in the first decade of the twenty-first century, it was one thing to stumble across an information trove like this. It was quite another attempting to link it to a specific crime.

If DS Dawson were to persuade a magistrate in the sleepy town of Scunthorpe on the Humber estuary to place his suspect on remand, then he needed to show crystal-clear evidence of a specific crime. Furthermore, there was always a fair chance that he would be presenting said evidence to a doddery old circuit judge who might have diffi culty using a TV remote, let alone accessing email. Convincing wasn’t sufficient – the case had to be watertight and simple enough for anyone to understand.

Time was dribbling away. The suspect could only be held for three days and two of those had already passed. Among the files, figures, weblogs, chatlogs and who-knows-what-else, Dawson had only one tiny scrap of evidence.

He stared at the fi fty words on a sheet of A4. These included an account number, 75377983; the date the account was opened, 24/02/2006, along with the account balance, £4,022.81. But there was also a name on it: Mr A A John; an email address: STPAULS@LEGEND. CO.UK; a physical address: 63 St Paul’s Road, Manningham, Bradford; a corporate sign-on ID and, crucially, a corporate sign-on password: 252931.

If he could just confi rm the account holder’s identity, and if that man were to state that he had never knowingly divulged his password, then Dawson would probably be able to persuade the judge to send the accused for trial and refuse bail. And that might just buy enough time for the Detective Sergeant to comprehend exactly what he was dealing with.

When Dawson had tried to contact Mr A.A. John he had learned that he was a minister of the Church of England who was taking a group of underprivileged children on holiday around India. He was also told that he would not be contactable until his return from Delhi. The Reverend was scheduled to arrive a few hours before the suspect had to be released. If he failed to come through, then the quicksand of this case would swallow up the ocean of data upon which Dawson had stumbled. Along with the data, the suspect would doubtless fade back into the anonymity of his virtual alter ego. It was Dawson’s misfortune that the Reverend John was suffi ciently unsettled by the telephone conversation with his wife that he resolved to deal with the matter only once he had arrived in his parish, Manningham. Indeed, he had turned off his mobile phone and concentrated instead on his long drive from the airport.

So why was he so upset?

Short and compact, the Reverend John was by temperament a jovial man. Born on the edge of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, his slightly hexagonal face was usually all sunshine, radiating from behind his professorial glasses. He was born into the minority-faith community of India’s Christians and joined the priesthood to work for the Anglican Church of India in Delhi for fi fteen years.

But in 1996 he was approached by the Church of the Province of South Africa to take charge of a parish in the Indian township of Lenasia, three miles south of Soweto, during the transition from apartheid to multi-party rule.

It was a challenging move for anybody, as these were testing times for his new home. The joy that greeted the end of the racist regime was tempered by the knowledge of how deep the resentments ran that had accumulated over the previous 200 years. Outsiders like the Reverend John required sophisticated political and social skills to understand the meaning of those tensions and how he might help to reduce them.

His successful work in South Africa was noticed further up the Anglican Church’s hierarchy and, after eight years, the Bishop of Bradford in the English county of West Yorkshire urged him to consider an equally challenging post in Manningham, a residential district on the edge of Bradford city centre. The Reverend John was reluctant – England had always struck him as a rather gloomy place, with its miserable weather and urban sprawl.

Equally, he knew that Manningham was no bed of roses. Many Britons regarded Bradford, and Manningham in particular, as a symbol of their country’s failing attempts to integrate its many ethnic and confessional groups. More malignant types saw in Manningham an opportunity to ratchet up the mistrust between those communities.

In July 2001 this district exploded into brief but violent riots that reflected a deepening division between the city’s large Asian constituency and its white population. Even earlier, Manningham had experienced the phenomenon of white fl ight and, by the time the Reverend John arrived, three years after the riots, 75 percent of the population were Muslims whose origins lay largely in the rural districts of northeastern Pakistan. ‘The remaining twenty-five per cent are Christians, although only about fi ve per cent of those are church-going. The white community here looks and feels like the minority it is,’ said the Reverend John. Although its climate, architecture and culture bore no resemblance to the townships of Jo’burg, in other ways Manningham felt uncannily like South Africa.

This was a hardship posting. When the clouds gathered or the snow fell, there was little that appealed in streets lined by sombre neo-Gothic buildings. Yet a little more than a century ago Manningham had been a most desirable area in which to live. This was during the period, now forgotten to the outside world, when Bradford was hailed as ‘the wool capital of the world’, acting as a mighty engine of Britain’s Industrial Revolution.

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, Manningham had been in a state of decay for many years. Employment and prosperity, once flourishing, had moved away long before. Drug abuse, domestic violence, property crime and prostitution had taken their place. The Reverend John cared for more people in his drop-in centre, all trying to escape the traps of poverty and criminality, than attended his church on Sundays.

With the ever-present threat that latent violence could break through the surface, the Reverend John’s work was on the front line of Britain’s class, cultural and social wars. Not easily scared, he maintained a readiness to chuckle in most circumstances. Given the challenges of his daily work, he wondered why the news of his compromised bank account unsettled him to such a degree. Above all, he wanted to talk to his sons, who understood about computer things. And then he decided that he needed to talk to the police quickly, to find out exactly what was going on. ‘Above all,’ he resolved, ‘I want this thing to be sorted out and put ...

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