Welcome to the Crime Lab! Here you will find information about cyber crimes and what happens to people who commit them.

Officer Ward

Officer Ward
Cyber Defender & Detention Center Security Officer

Officer Ward believes that most people who disrespect the privelages of Cyberspace are more ignorant than criminal, and that most cyber criminals can be rehabilitated into faithful cyber citizens through education about the dangers of delinquency in Cyberspace.

Working closely with Commander Omni and the Cyber Defense Academy, Officer Ward hopes to secure Cyberspace for everyone.

Favorite Quote:

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do
- John Baptiste Moliere

Favorite Food:



Coaching softball, fishing, catching cyber criminals

January 17, 2011

Cyber Crimes - Cyber Monday Crackdown

Woohoo! I love reading articles about good guys capturing cyber villains and putting a stop to their evil deeds. I just read this great piece about a massive crackdown on Cyber Monday . For those of you who don’t know, Cyber Monday is the peak online holiday shopping day, similar to how Black Friday is the peak day for in-store holiday shopping. Unfortunately, right alongside all the great deals from honest online retailers, there are a lot of dishonest Web sites trying to fool good folks out of their hard-earned money.

And, thankfully, now there are a lot less deceitful retailers on the Internet because ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) shut down over 80 online stores that sold counterfeit goods. Take THAT, cyber pirates! I wonder if Captain Jack Plunder was caught? Part of me hopes he was, but the selfish part of me hopes he wasn’t. I want to be the one to take him down.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

November 19,2010

Cyber Crimes: Wikileaks: Afghan War Diaries

I’ll be honest with you, cadets. This month’s topic is tough. It involves a topic that a lot of people have VERY strong feelings about one way or the other. I know how I feel about it, but I’ll do my best to present you the facts without coloring it with my opinion. Still, I have to say that what happened is a crime, as it involved leaking classified materials.

A public website published over 90,000 classified US military documents about the war in Afghanistan. The military was outraged, claiming that the leaked documents could threaten the security of the forces overseas. The editors of the website, on the other hand, argued that the public had a right to know the information. What do you think, cadets? Should the documents be available to everyone or is the risk to our security not worth it?

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

October 4,2010

Cyber Crimes: Dealing with Cyber Bullying

Hey cadets! How are you enjoying National Cybersecurity Awareness Month? Kind of a mouthful, isn’t it? I wish it had a catchier title. I think I’ll just call it NCSAM. That’s waaay easier.

Moving on.

As I’ve said before, Cyber bullying is when someone uses technology (usually a computer) to bother another person. This can mean anything from receiving nasty emails from someone or having someone post mean things about you on an online forum. Sometimes the victims of cyber bullying don’t even know who it is that’s pestering them!

If you ever become the victim of cyber bullying or know someone that is, it’s important that you tell a trusted adult right away. You’ll probably be tempted to try to deal with the bully yourself, but believe me, this can make things way worse. Instead, just document exactly what happened by saving it to a folder on your computer, taking a screen capture, or copying the offensive things into a word document. Once this is done, tell a trusted adult about it. This way the bully won’t get away with being a jerk and you won’t feel powerless about being harassed whenever you go online.

You should also check out Hint Sheet #4: Dealing with Cyber Bullying and Hint Sheet #5: Reporting Cyber Bullying for more tips. If you witness cyber bullying, try and help out the victim. Sometimes having someone on your side can make all the difference! Cyber bullying is a serious problem, but with your help we can put an end to it!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

June 28,2010

Cyber Crimes: Copyright Infringment

Whoa, talk about a major slip on my part! I was reading through some of my older blog posts and I realized something – I’ve mentioned something called “copyright” a few times now but never really said what it is. I think now is the perfect time to fix that.

Copyright law is a set of rules that protects the creator of an original work from having his or her work copied. For example, the blog I’m writing is an original work of mine. Because everything on this website is protected by a copyright (see the bottom of the page), anyone copying it without permission would be breaking the law. This crime is known as copyright infringement. It is punishable with very serious fines.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the copyright law changes from country to country, so be careful! What might be legal in one nation could be a crime in another. Basically, it all comes down to this, though – no one likes a copycat, so do your best to be original!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

May 17,2010

Cyber Crimes: Wire Fraud

Hi there, cadets. Enjoying this beautiful spring weather? I know I am. Bees are chirping, birds are buzzing. Wait, reverse that. Anyway, do you want to know something I don’t enjoy? WIRE FRAUD!

Before I dive into wire fraud, let me explain fraud at its most basic level. When one person lies to another in order to gain something, they have committed fraud against that person. Wire fraud is exactly the same, only the lie is told using electronic communication. Some examples of wire fraud include email scams and phony telemarketers that try to get personal information from their victims. Remember, cadets, wire fraud is a very serious crime, punishable by time in prison and tough fines.

The best way to prevent wire fraud is to remain ever vigilant! In other words, be cautious with your personal information. The Internet is great, but it can also be dangerous!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

March 22,2010

Cyber Crimes: The WANK Worm

In 1989, some Australian activists launched a cyber attack against NASA, causing their computers to flash with the message “WORMS AGAINST NUCLEAR KILLERS; YOUR SYSTEM HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY WANKED!” and “YOU TALK OF TIMES OF PEACE FOR ALL, AND THEN PREPARE FOR WAR.” The worm that infected NASA’s computers caused an estimated loss of over $500,000 before it was stopped. Additionally, it spread along the network before anyone could prevent its spreading, infecting sites across the globe.

Unlike the alleged criminals in most of our Cyber Crimes blogs, the creators of the WANK worm were never caught. Still, I can’t help but think they didn’t exactly come out on top of the situation. I mean, their goal was to speak out against nuclear weapons, when in reality, all they did was temporarily cripple a space program and several nuclear power plants and energy research facilities around the world. That’s the sort of thing we SHOULD be using nuclear technology for!

In my opinion, they probably could’ve done more good writing letters to Parliament about the dangers of nuclear weapons. At least that wouldn’t be illegal!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

February 19,2010

Cyber Crimes: Email Bombing

So uh…I accidentally email bombed Dr. Keen. Yeah, I know, I should have known better. In case you don’t know what email bombing is, let me explain by telling you what I did. So Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I thought it’d be nice to send her a card telling her how much I appreciate her. Well, after talking to Trey about being green, I decided to send her an electronic card instead.

The only problem is, once I got online, I couldn’t choose which card to send! Since they were free, I thought to myself why not send her all of them? Then she’d really know how much I care! Well…50,000 cards later, she couldn’t access her account! And on top of that, her Internet service provider (ISP) banned her entirely because they thought they were under a denial of service attack!

I think, in the future, I’ll just take Trey’s other advice and make her a card from recycled paper…or, you know, just tell her how much she means to me.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

January 21,2010

Cyber Crimes: Cyber Defamation

To put it simply, defamation is a big word meaning lies you say or write about someone that hurts their reputation. Lawyers break these lies into two categories. If the lie is written, it's called libel. If the lie is said out loud, it's called slander. Either way, it's illegal. Also, it's mean! Don't do it!

Not that I have to worry about you cadets doing something that cruel.

Anyway, this sort of thing can have serious consequences. Imagine if you were applying for a job and your employer did an Internet search for your name. Imagine then if she found a bunch of terrible lies about you on a Web site. Do you think she would want to hire you? No way! Cyber defamation can have serious consequences, even if it's done as a joke.

If you know someone is spreading lies about you or someone you know, whether it's on the Internet or in person, tell a trusted adult right away. It might just seem like an innocent joke, but it can be really hurtful!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

November 24 2009

Cyber Crimes: IP Spoofing

All right. IP spoofing. Let's get to it. The best way to understand IP spoofing is with an example. Say you were mailing a mean letter to someone you didn't like. You probably don't want the person reading the nasty letter to know who sent it, so you change the return address on the envelope from your actual address to one you just made up. Better yet, you change it to the address of someone else you don't like! This way, when the person receives the nasty letter, they'll think someone else sent it! Of course, you would never do this in real life because you're not a jerk. Moving on.

Cyber criminals do the same thing, but with IP addresses. Rather than using their own IP address when they do their cyber villainy, they'll use a false address so their victim won't know who's behind the attack. Sometimes, the criminal will try to copy the IP address of a computer that their target network already trusts. This way, they won't have to hack the password. Sneaky!

So there you have it. Don't do it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a pirate to catch.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

October 21 2009

Cyber Crimes: Cyber Squatting

Last night I decided to create a Webpage so I could brag about all the huge fish I caught last spring. I went to register www.officerward.com, but someone had already taken it! Worst of all, they weren't even using the Web site! I contacted the person that owned the Web site and they said they'd be willing to sell me the name.FOR $2,000! Then it hit me. I was dealing with rotten cybersquatters.

Cybersquatting is when someone registers a domain name so they can make a profit off it later by selling it for a high price. Some cybersquatters will even make a Web site with a name similar to a popular existing site to fool people into checking it out. When companies first started using the Internet to advertise their products, many of them found that the Web addresses they wanted to register were already taken. Luckily for them, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) protected their trademark and the owner of the domain name had to give them.

Since you probably don't own a company, you really shouldn't run into any problems with cybersquatters. I decided not to sue the person who owned www.officerward.com since it wouldn't be worth the effort. In fact, I decided not to do a Web site at all! Instead, I'll just carry pictures of all my amazing catches in my wallet so I can show people wherever I go!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

September 16 2009

Cyber Crimes: Publishing Forbidden Content

Forbidden content is a really tough term to define exactly. Really, it is used to describe anything on the Internet that someone might find offensive or is downright illegal. Some common examples of forbidden content are gross pictures, foul language and plagiarism. Not to get too far off subject here, but I think I ought to define plagiarism. Plagiarism is basically the theft of someone else's ideas or works and passing them off as your own. It's lying. It's bad. Don't do it. Moving on.

Like I said earlier, forbidden content is hard to describe. A great list of forbidden content can be found at this Web site. As they say on the Web site, almost all forbidden content falls under two major categories. Forbidden content is either a. offensive or b. unlawful. The offensive stuff is pretty easy to figure out - hateful speech, foul language and other words and pictures that just make you cringe. Remember, some people are easier to offend than others, so do your best to be nice!

Unlawful describes, well, anything against the law. Something that encourages or helps someone to commit a crime or anything that violates copyright laws can be considered unlawful, so be careful!

If you ever see anything you think might be forbidden content, let a trusted adult know right away. You need to do your part in keeping the Internet clean and safe, Cadet!

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

August 25 2009

Cyber Crimes: Extortion

Hey everybody! Tell me if this has ever happened to you - You've got a note to give to a friend, but before you can give it to them, somebody takes it! They say that they won't give it back to you unless you do something for them, like giving them your lunch or doing their homework. Depending on what that note says, you might be willing to do whatever it takes to get it back!

Well, in the business world, this is called "extortion," and it is a problem many companies face. Companies will often put a lot of very confidential information on their servers, assuming that this information is safe. Of course, any Cyber Cadet worth their badge could tell them that information on computers is never really safe.

This is what happens - the cyber criminal will either get access to the secret information or will prevent the company from accessing its own information. The criminal will then demand money from the company, and if the company doesn't give them what they want, they will destroy the information. As you can imagine, this sort of thing could destroy most companies, and it is with that in mind that many companies work hard to stop this sort of attack. So how do they prevent extortion attacks? The same way you prevent most other cyber crimes. Internet security software, such as McAfee, Symantec, and Spybot Search and Destroy will definitely help in stopping incoming attacks, and, of course, something as simple as having a strong password is always a good idea.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

July 28 2009

Cyber Crimes: Network Sabotage

Network Sabotage is the deliberate disruption, either through destruction or obstruction, of a computer network. You can imagine that network sabotage is a big concern for companies and the government that need their networks to run smoothly every day. Recently, a government worker in San Francisco was accused of unlawfully gaining control of the city's network. It was such a serious allegation that his bail was set at $5 million!

So how exactly can one protect a network from sabotage? The most effective security option is to protect the server room. Such protection does not need to be high-tech, and could be as simple as a lock or an access log. Of course, more tech-savvy predators will not need physical access to the server to do damage. This is where strong passwords and restricting options for users becomes highly effective. Lastly, ensuring that all the basic measures of protection (anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, etc.) are in place and up to date will help ensure the safety of the network.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

June 8 2009

Cyber Crimes: Insider Attack

An insider attack is when someone who has been given permission to access a system or network misuses that access to attack the network or steal data. Insider attacks can be difficult to trace. Most security measures are designed to protect against outside attacks, and because the insider frequently knows what security measures are in place, he or she can avoid them.

Sometimes insider attacks happen by accident. When a network isn't properly secured, someone can stumble across data that they shouldn't be allowed to access.

To protect a network from insider attacks, system administrators must use a variety of strategies. They could use software that allows them to trace an attack and find security holes, called internal intrusion detection software. They could also set policies that only allow employees access to the parts of the network they need to do their jobs.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

April 13 2009

Cyber Crimes: Man-in-the-Middle Attack

A Man-in-the-middle attack is when an attacker spies on communications between two parties, such as a computer and a server, without their knowledge. The attacker can then read and change the data as they intercept it.

A similar attack is a Man-in-the-Browser attack, which uses a Trojan Horse to intercept and alter communications from a Web browser. Both attacks are commonly used for identity theft and bank fraud. They can intercept and change passwords, account numbers, and even transfer amounts.

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself against a Man-in-the-middle or a Man-in-the-browser attack is to use encryption to protect your Internet communications. Since the attacks can capture and change information stored in cookies, try to avoid using them if you're unsure about the security of the connection or if it is a public computer. If you ever get the warning that the digital certificate for a site is not valid, it could mean your connection is being spied on.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

March 16 2009

Cyber Crimes: Cyber Stalking

An aggressive form of cyber bullying, cyber stalking is the use of the Internet to follow, harass, or contact others in an unwanted manner. Like offline stalking, cyber stalking is a threatening behavior and aims to cause the victim distress.

Cyber stalkers use search engines, online forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, to research and stalk their victims, feeding their own obsessions and curiosity. They might not even know their victims offline.

Cyber stalking can cause more emotional harm than milder forms of cyber bullying, and victims can feel completely powerless, with no control over the situation. They can become depressed, overwhelmed by fear, and full of anxiety. They might start avoiding the Internet or even the rest of the world entirely because of fear for their safety.

Just like other forms of cyber bullying, protect yourself from cyber stalkers by making sure that you won't be an easy target. Don't share your personal information in cyberspace, especially photos and videos. Follow Betty's guidelines for creating a safe alias, and carefully choose which chat rooms and Web sites you visit in cyberspace to make sure they are moderated and safe.

If someone is bothering you in cyberspace, be the better person and ignore them and walk away. Then, let a trusted adult know about it, so you can work out a solution together.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

February 12 2009

Cyber Crimes: Web site Vandalism

Web site vandalism is the graffiti of cyberspace and is when someone tampers with or damages another person's Web site. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Copying content from one site and putting it on another, sometimes in an altered form
  • Changing the content of another's Web site or the data stored on the site
  • Rigging a domain name to redirect to the wrong Web site
  • Blocking access to a site or Denial-of-Service attacks

Web site vandalism can also involve other cyber crimes like hacking, identity theft, and using someone's server without their knowledge to conduct criminal attacks, like sending spam and malware.

It is also very common on Web sites where users create the content, like Wikipedia. Wikipedia has anti-vandalism editors, who use tools and bots to check all edits to their content. They even have an entry dedicated to the incorrect edits and hoaxes people have posted on their site over the years.

The security vulnerabilities that allow people to vandalize Web sites are on the machine hosting the Web site, which most people do not have direct control of. To defend your site from Web site vandalism, keep a close watch on your content, especially if someone else has access to it, and make sure that the company that hosts your Web site has a good security policy and protective software in place.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

Janaury 12 2009

Cyber Crimes: Zero Day Attack

A Zero Day attack is a special kind of cyber attack that takes advantage of security holes and vulnerabilities in newly released and unpatched software. Cyber Criminals can launch the attack on the first day new software is available, before the developers can create and distribute a patch for it. Most people and software developers don’t know about them until it's too late.

Zero Day attacks frequently target Web browsers and email software because of how many people use them. Machines under attack can expose personal information, become infected with malware, and be used to launch other attacks.

There are a few different kinds of software that can reasonably protect your machine from Zero Day attacks, but they aren't foolproof. The best way for you to defend your computer is to keep your Anti-Virus software up-to-date and to wait a while after a new program or update is released before using it. Most software companies will try to fix their vulnerabilities right away, so by waiting a bit and then installing everything at the same time, you’re better protected from the start.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

November 24 2008

Cyber Crimes: Computer Theft

As silly as it may sound, the easiest way for a cyber criminal to steal data and identities is to simply steal the computers that store them. Some cyber criminals will even break into company or government buildings to steal their servers, obtaining thousands of people's confidential information in one attack.

Use common sense and don't make it easy for anyone to walk off with your computer or mobile devices. Don't leave them lying around in public, in a car, or near a window that a thief could easily break into to steal them. If you can't take them with you, always try to lock them up in a drawer or closet if you have to leave. Refer to Dr. Keen's post Cyber Defense Tip: Physical Security for more tips for keeping devices that contain your personal information safe.

But what about if someone breaks into your house? There are a number of physical devices you can use to make it difficult to remove your machine. These include metal plates to anchor the computer to your desk, cables to tie your computer down that set off an alarm when they are cut, and laptop safes to lock your computer in. These make it more difficult for a casual thief to grab your machine and run, but they aren't guaranteed.

In case your machine ever does get stolen, you can protect your data with strong passwords and devices that will keep someone else from accessing it, like fingerprint scanners. You can also take measures to make it easier to recover your machine. Keep a record of the model and serial number of your computer and devices. Report a theft immediately to the police. There are also software programs you can install that can track down and help you recover a stolen machine.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

October 27 2008

Cyber Crimes: Defamation

Do you wonder how much is true that is said about candidates during the race for the White House? Is there anything that prevents presidential candidates from flat-out lying?

There are laws that give people the right to sue someone for defamation, which is the use of false statements to harm someone's reputation. Laws against defamation apply to both slander (which is spoken defamation) and libel (which is written defamation). Libel even includes the Internet and TV broadcasts because the defamation is written into a script.

There are also truth-in-advertising laws. These laws aim to protect people from being tricked into believing something false that they hear in a commercial or another kind of advertisement. Some truth-in-advertising laws apply to political advertisements. But there are no truth-in-advertising laws governing federal candidates, like those candidates who run for President of the United States.

The First Amendment in the Constitution protects the freedom of speech, so any law that would limit what a federal candidate can say would violate that right. TV stations must show the ads, even if they believe them to be offensive or false, and they must show ads from all candidates as well.

Despite laws against defamation, most political candidates do not sue each other for slander or libel. Cases in court take a very long time. The election would be over long before the case ever goes to court. Also, the candidate would have to prove without a doubt that the other person knew a statement was false and advertised it anyway. The offender can always claim they believed it was true or that there was a grain of truth in it.

That's why it's so important for you to be informed. Seek the facts and compare the statements before making your own decision, because what you're hearing from the candidates very well might not be the absolute truth.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

September 29 2008

Cyber Crimes: Cheating in Online Games

When many people can access a place online, like an online game, inevitably it will attract some people who don't want to play by the rules. Cheating exists in just about every online multiplayer game. Unfortunately, there are many different ways to do it and it can be difficult to prove. Cheating methods include:

  • Using hacking software to modify the game or give a player an unfair advantage over other players
  • Disconnecting the computer from the Internet when a player has lost in order to prevent the loss from being recorded on the game server
  • Farming or buying farmed items
  • Exploiting or taking advantage of a bug in the game that gives the player abilities they would not normally have

Game companies use anti-cheating software. They also have Game Moderators, characters in the game who are controlled by people working for the game company, who closely monitor players and watch for cheating. Players can also report game bugs and cheaters to the Game Moderators, so they can take care of the problem. Bugs or game design flaws that players can exploit are usually fixed with a game software patch.

Most games have a Terms of Use or an End User License Agreement (EULA) that every player must accept in order to play the game. These spell out the game rules, especially what is considered cheating and what the punishment is for it. Many online games will ban your account for cheating. They can even ban your installation or serial number so you can no longer use the software. Be sure to read through the Terms of Use or EULA carefully before playing any online game.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

August 25 2008

Cyber Crimes: Defining Cyber Crime

I thought it might be a good idea to go over what exactly constitutes a cyber crime. A cyber crime is a crime that is committed with the help of a computer or communication device and a network. The network is usually the Internet, but it can also include internal networks or even mobile device networks.

According to the United States Department of Justice, there are three different types of cyber crimes:

  • The computer as a target - attacking other people's computers with malware or other damaging attacks.
  • The computer as a weapon - using a computer or the Internet to commit "traditional" crimes that can be committed offline too, such as theft or illegal gambling.
  • The computer as an accessory - using a computer to store illegal or stolen information.

Victims of cyber crimes can lose their money, their jobs, their dignity, and their good name, and sometimes it takes years to repair the damage. Even the most novice computer user can commit a cyber crime, whether they are aware of it or not. But if it's a crime offline, you can bet it's also a crime online, and can have just as severe of a punishment as an offline crime.

Do your homework and don't just assume something is legal just because everyone else is doing it. Just because you feel anonymous in cyberspace doesn't mean you are, and cyber crimes can be traced back to the person who committed them.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

July 21 2008

Cyber Crimes: Cyberwoozling

Similar to Spyware, Cyberwoozling is gathering data from someone's computer without their knowledge or permission when they visit a Web site. This is usually done through Web browser cookies, user-installed plug-ins, and add-in code sent to the person's computer from the site. Cyberwoozling can steal information such as email addresses, Web sites you have visited, and how long you spent at them, and add-in code can be used to control what pop-ups are displayed in your browser.

Cyberwoozling is a tactic used by spyware, but spyware also performs other malicious behaviors that can damage or alter your computer, like changing your Web browser's home page and opening random Web pages. Cyberwoozling is usually used to get reports of people's browsing trends and does not involve any other activities. To protect your computer from cyberwoozling, be very careful about installing any cookies or Web browser plug-ins on your computer. Only allow cookies from trusted sites, and check with a trusted adult before installing any plug-ins.

Refer to Scout's Cyber Defense Threat: Cookies post for more information about how manage your Web browser's cookies.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

June 16 2008

Cyber Crimes: Social Engineering

Social engineering is a tactic used by Cyber Criminals that uses lies and manipulation to trick people into revealing their personal information. Social engineering attacks frequently involve very convincing fake stories to lure victims into their trap.

Common social engineering attacks include:

  • Sending victims an email claiming there's a problem with their bank account and directing them to a fake Web site to enter their account information to steal it (this is called Phishing)
  • Trying to convince victims to open email attachments that contain malware by claiming it is something they might enjoy (like a game) or need (like anti-virus software)
  • Pretending to be a network or account administrator and asking for the victim's password to perform maintenance
  • Claiming that the victim has won a prize but must give their credit card information in order to receive it
  • Asking for a victim's password for an Internet service and then using the same password to access other accounts and services since many people re-use the same password
  • Promising the victim they will receive millions of dollars if they will help out the sender by giving them money or their bank account information

Like other hacking techniques, social engineering is illegal in the United States and other countries. To protect yourself from social engineering, don't trust any emails or messages you receive that request any sort of personal information. Most companies will never ask you for personal information through email.

You should always let a trusted adult know when you receive an email or message that might be a social engineering attack, and don't believe everything you read. Also, use different passwords for each account and change them frequently - check out Dr. Keen's Cyber Defense Tip: Choosing a Strong and Secure Password for help with creating good passwords.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

May 19 2008

Cyber Crimes: Cyber Piracy

Cyber piracy is when you use a computer to copy or share materials that are protected by copyright without the creator's permission. The most common form of cyber piracy is copying and distributing music, movies, or software programs. Sometimes, cyber piracy can be as simple as installing certain software on more than one computer. People frequently share the pirated files and software using illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing programs or Web sites. While it may seem like a good idea because you are getting something for free, you are in fact stealing. It is just like going to the store and taking it off the shelf without paying.

Cyber piracy is a very serious crime and many people, including kids, have gotten into serious trouble for it. They have to pay fines for hundreds of thousands of dollars or even going to jail. Even worse, Cyber Piracy can cause music and software companies to raise the prices of their products to compensate for the money they lose from people stealing. We all suffer from it. It is also very easy for Cyber Villains like Elvirus to put nasty malware into pirated files. When you install or run them, they wreak havoc on your computer and data.

You should never install or use pirated files or software. A good rule is that if it would cost you money in the store, it should cost you money in cyberspace. Also, be sure to read through the product's copyright policy (ask an adult to help explain it to you) so that you know what all the restrictions are, like if you can only install it on one machine.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

April 21 2008

Cyber Crimes: Hacking

Hacking is when someone breaks into another person's computer or network to view and possibly change information that they shouldn't have access to. These people, called hackers or crackers, will look for software vulnerabilities to exploit or use their computer skills to gain unauthorized access to a computer system. Hackers can also write scripts that other people called "script kiddies" will use to break into computers.

Many hackers break into computers to commit identity theft or to steal money, but other hackers will knowingly break the law just because they want to make an artistic or political statement.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

March 24 2008

Cyber Crimes: Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is when someone uses the Internet to harass, intimidate, embarrass, or demean others. Cyber bullies may post embarrassing information on Web pages, trick people into giving out personal information, send threatening or cruel messages or emails, or pretend to be somebody else to send mean or embarrassing messages.

Kids who might not be mean in the real world sometimes bully others online because they can't see or be seen by the people they are hurting. Their bullying can make people feel bad about themselves, fall behind in school work, or become anxious, depressed, and even suicidal.

If you are being bullied by someone online, tell a trusted adult right away.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

February 18 2008

Cyber Crimes: Plagiarism

Plagiarism comes from the word "plagiarius," meaning "to plunder." It is when you copy someone else's written or creative work without their permission and pretend that it is your own. Plagiarism is committed most often by students. Schools usually have a policy regarding it. Even though it can be accidental or unintentional, plagiarism is a very serious offense and can result in severe punishments such as a failing grade, getting suspended from school, or even being expelled.

The Internet makes it easy to plagiarize by simply copying and pasting. However, it also makes it easy to identify plagiarized works. If you can find it on the Web, your teacher can find it too, so don't try to get away with it. When you use someone else's work as a reference or include images, graphs, or text from it in your work, you must always make sure that you ask for the author's permission to do so. Also, you need to list the author's name and the title of the source (cite) along with your work to avoid being accused of plagiarism. If you need to paraphrase someone else's work, be sure to change the wording, so that it is in your own voice and always acknowledge the original source.

For more information about how to use the Internet effectively for research, check out Maya's Research Tips.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

January 21 2008

Cyber Crimes: Identity Theft

Identity theft is when you use someone else's personal information and pretend to be them. It can happen offline as well as in cyberspace. Cyber criminals will often commit identity theft in order to steal money from someone's bank account or buy things with their credit cards. Even simply pretending to be someone else when you're in a chat room or using someone else's credit card without their permission are forms of identity theft.

Identity theft is a major cyber crime and is punishable by several years in prison and fines up to $250,000. It can take a long time for a victim to recover from the attack, and sometimes they never get everything back that was stolen from them. To protect yourself from identity theft, you should be extremely careful with the information you share in cyberspace, and never share any personal information.

If a Web site requires credit card or bank account information, always check with a trusted adult to help you verify if the site is trustworthy and secure. Never use someone else's credit card without their permission. Fortunately many banks and credit card companies provide protection against identity theft, but you can never be too careful!

Be sure to check Betty's tips on Personal Information and Safe Online Communications to learn more about what information is dangerous to share online.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

December 17 2007

Cyber Crimes: Spamming

Spamming is when you send the same message to a large numbers of users, usually to advertise something. The most common form of spamming is email spam, but other forms can include instant messaging and chat room spamming, blog spamming, and forum spamming. Spam is the junk mail of cyberspace, and there are many spammers out there.

Spamming is illegal in the United States and in many countries, but it can be difficult to track down spammers so chances are, you'll have to deal with spam. To protect yourself and your computer from spammers, you should use a spam filter and delete any spam you receive without reading it. Spammers also often use software robots, called spambots, to collect email addresses from the Web, so you should avoid putting your email address anywhere on a Web page.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes

November 19 2007

Cyber Crimes: Denial-of-Service attacks

In light of the recent attack, I'd like to provide everyone with some more information about denial-of-service attacks.

In a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack), attackers will try to make a computer or Internet service unavailable to its users. They do this by making a server do more work than it can possibly handle, usually by sending it too many requests or flooding a network with fake traffic. This prevents people from using the computer or Internet service. Or, it makes the server work so slowly that it becomes useless. DoS attacks can prevent a Web site or server from functioning well or at all, as you may have noticed when the Academy server was attacked yesterday!

Symptoms of a DoS attack can include unusually slow access to a network, the inability to open a Web site, or a large increase in the amount of spam emails received. A DoS attack can also include malware, so we are thoroughly checking the Academy's servers for any malicious code that may have been installed during the attack.

For more detailed information on DoS attacks, visit MySecureCyberspace or Wikipedia.

posted by Officer Ward
topic: Cyber Crimes