Examining Underground Economy Servers

By Jean-François Legault, CISSP, CISA, CISM, GCIH, GCFA

Digital Fingerprints  

In my previous column, I briefly mentioned underground economy servers and the role they play in identity theft. This column will take a closer look at how criminals operate them.

Underground economy servers came to the forefront in October 2004 when the U.S. Secret Service, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies around the world, conducted raids on members of the ShadowCrew.com message board.

Between 2002 and the 2004 indictment, ShadowCrew.com had become, along with the Russian site, CarderPlanet, a clearinghouse that enabled members to buy, sell, or trade hacked credit and bank cards, false identities, and stolen personally identifiable information (PIM). PIM can include government-issued identity numbers, PINs, user accounts, and e-mail address lists, among other information.

These clearinghouse message boards became part of the underground landscape as cyber-criminals turned from disrupting IT infrastructures (remember the "I Love You" virus of 2000?) to developing malware with financial gain in mind and hacking for profit.

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