Identity Theft and Organized Crime

Many identity thieves have a personal connection to victims, and they can even be family members, friends, employers or employees. Not all do, however, as they can also be total strangers who stole your mail, went through your trash or even come from a foreign country.

Why do these criminals do this? People who practice identity theft are usually driven by mental illness, desperation or greed. Some, however, are also organized criminals who will do what it takes to steal the money of others.

Hackers across the globe use tools to access databases that contain valuable information such as:

  • Birth dates
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Home and business addresses
  • Bank account information

These people break into the networks that store this information, steal the data, and then use it to take over existing accounts. In only one day, they can make changes to a victim's credit card account, transfer money and even take everything.

One of the most notorious cybercriminals in history is Albert Gonzalez. He began with reign of cyber terror at the age of 12, when his home computer became infected with a virus. By learning how to protect his computer from invasions, he also learned how to make a profit from them.

By the age of 14, Gonzalez was regularly using stolen account information to buy things online. He eventually hacked into the servers at NASA, and even after a visit from FBI agents at his school, he did not slow down.

 

Gonzalez was finally arrested at the age of 22 while at an ATM. He was wearing a woman's wig, had a fake nose ring, and was using several debit cards in order to obtain cash. Police soon realized who he was, however, and had the leader of a cyber gang in their grasp.

Following his arrest, police convinced Gonzalez to turn on his gang, but he also was a double agent, of sorts.

While helping authorities to capture other cyber criminals, he was continuously stealing, and even pulled off a scheme to have into the network of ATMs at 7-Eleven.

When all was said and done, Gonzalez received A 20-year prison sentance, and it was found that he had access to more than 180 million debit and credit card accounts.

How Hacking is Done

So how do people like Gonzalez hack others? They use a number of different hardware and software, known as penetration-testing tools, to seek out any holes within a network. These holes may be found in an operating system or Internet connection. Hackers also commonly look for vulnerabilities within Internet browsers.

Approximately 15 years ago, criminals began creating viruses that got into a computer, deleted files or crashed hard drives. Today, this is no longer the case. These days, hackers want computers to run smoothly, and the viruses can sit dormant in the hard drive until they become activated in some way. For instance, a modern Trojan may have a design that detects when victims are doing online banking. At this point, they strike.

A virus can easily attack a computer without the operator knowing simply by visiting a website, clicking a link in an email or downloading a certain program.

These are the most common ways to get a virus on your computer, but there are many others. The latest studies should that the number of computer viruses have quadrupled over the past couple of years. On top of this, the criminal hackers will use technology that is brand new and evolving at a faster rate than the technology used by those who are trying to stop the viruses. This is why we should do all we can to protect our computers from viruses.