How today’s Cyber Criminals are different?

A Young, inexperienced, and possessing Cyber Criminal/ Cracker with vast quantities of time to waste, to get into just one more system. However, there is a far more dangerous type of system cracker out there. One who knows the ins and outs of the latest security auditing and cracking tools, who can modify them for specific attacks, and who can write his/her own programs. One who not only reads about the latest security holes, but also personally discovers bugs and vulnerabilities. A deadly creature that can both strike poisonously and hide its tracks without a whisper or hint of a trail.

Today’s computer criminal is motivated by any of several things. He or she (an increasing number of hackers are women) is in the hacking game for financial gain, revenge, or political motivation. There are other aspects of the modern hacker that are disturbing. Most proficient hackers are accomplished code writers. They not only understand the systems they attack, most write their own tools. While it is true that many hacking tools are readily available on the Internet, the really effective ones are in the private tool kits of professional intruders, just as lock-picking kits are the work tools of the professional burglar. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the personal computer revolution brought us the virus writer. Early viruses were, by accounts of the period, a vicious breed of bug. As virus writing became a popular underground pastime, virus construction kits appeared. Now anyone with a compiler and a PC could write a virus. The problem, of course, was that these kits were, essentially, cut-and-paste affairs. No really new viruses appeared — just different versions of the same ones. The antivirus community caught up, breathed a sigh of relief, and waited for the next wave.
Today, profilers have a much more difficult time sorting out the antisocial hacker from the cold-blooded professional on a salary from his current employer’s competitor. Today, the intrusion into the marketing files of a major corporation may be accomplished so smoothly and with such skill that a computer crime investigator has a difficult time establishing that an intrusion has even occurred, much less establishing its source and nature. However, in most organizations, one thing has not changed much. The computers are still vulnerable. The logging is still inadequate. The policies, standards, and practices are still outdated. So the environment is still fertile ground for attack. Even though today’s cyber crook has a specific goal in mind — to steal or destroy your data — he or she still has an inviting playing field.
Yesterday’s intruder came searching for knowledge — the understanding of as many computer systems as possible. Today’s intruder already has that understanding. He or she wants your data. Today’s cyber crook will either make money off you or get revenge against you. He or she will not simply learn about your system. That difference — the fact that you will lose money — is the biggest change in the evolution of the computer cracker. Much has been made in the computer community about the evolution of the term “hacker.” Hacker, in the early days of computing, was a proud label. It meant that its owner was an accomplished and elegant programmer. It meant that the hacker’s solutions to difficult problems were effective, compact, efficient, and creative.
The popular press has, the “real” Hackers say, twisted the connotation of the term into something evil. “Call the bad guys ‘Crackers,’” they say. “You insult the true computer Hacker by equating him or her with Criminal acts.” If we look at the professional “Cracker” of today, however, we find that he or she is a “Hacker” in the purest traditions of the term. However, like Darth Vader, or the gun in the hands of a murderer (“guns don’t kill, people do”) these hackers have found the “dark side” of computing. Let’s call them what they are — Hackers — and never forget not to underestimate our adversary.
Though India has developed a full fledged indigenous Cyber Forensic Labs, Software Package, etc. however, we have a very long way to go and we are still in the process of evolving systems and methodologies to stem the menace.
Now the question is that “How could we prevent this type of activity?” The answer is complex. As you will see in the emerging glut of computer security books, planning by implementing policies, standards and practices, implementation of correct security architectures and countermeasures, and a good level of security awareness is the key. If your system is wide open, you’ll be hit. There is, in this day and age, no way to avoid that. What you can do is ensure that your controls are in place and robust and that you are prepared for the inevitable. That won’t stop the hacker from trying, but it may ensure that you’ll avoid most of the consequences.