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New Hampshire Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Robo-Calling Malware

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-must-stay-in-this-beautiful-state dept.

Crime 160

alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network World: "A New Hampshire man who made $8 million by installing unwanted dial-up software on computers and then forcing them to call expensive premium telephone numbers was handed down an 82-month sentence this week. Prosecutors say that between 2003 and 2007, Asu Pala and others put together a lucrative business by setting up premium telephone numbers in Germany — similar to the 1-900 numbers used in the US — and then infecting German PCs with software that would automatically dial the numbers for short periods of time." Do that many people still have modems attached?

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Lets just hope (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354148)

anonymous coward never goes to jail for first posting slashdot..

Modem Tax (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354158)

Only way to get rid of them.

peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in sy (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354184)

peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in systems may just be there for faxing.

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354250)

After living with someone who was forced by her work to maintain a landline for faxing, the very thought of faxing fills me with rage to this day.

I would gladly sponsor a virus which infected and violently blew up fax modems.

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354314)

Yeah, faxing IS NOT necessary AT ALL.

Why?

All-in-one printers. It's better to just scan the document files, archive them to a zip(if you have to use .jpg instead of .zip.)

This is how I get and sign documents for my insurance agent(versus driving sixty minutes to his office, parking, and waiting.) Since, under contract law, a scanned copy of my contract is considered valid.

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354596)

    That's legal requirements versus policy.

    There are still a lot of places who's policy states they require fax authorizations.

    Where I work, we have a rather nice fax/scanner/printer. We usually scan and email to ourselves. A huge number of places require faxes to be sent. Many of those places insist on sending fax responses. They aren't allowed to email, nor give results verbally. The excuse is usually that it's "not secure". I can't quite comprehend how telling someone on the phone is less secure than sending a fax, and hope the minutes or hours later the intended recipient is standing by the fax, and the fax won't be left in a box, on a desk, and will be properly disposed of, rather than just leaving it laying around.

 

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354810)

A lot of buisnesses founded prior to 2000 have been using the fax for 10-15 years. I worked for one company years ago that still hires temps in the summer to file and send responses to their faxes simply because in the slow season having a verifiable paper trail allows them to stick their vendors with the cost of screw ups, and also generates jobs for several long-term (12+ years) employees. If your choice is a) speed up the process and lose money converting to the new system while learning from your mistakes of integrating the new system or b) letting your old friends of 12+ years go because they aren't needed.... it's easy to ignore the modern solution.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (2)

Geminii (954348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354258)

Precisely. Faxes also have legal statuses that email doesn't, in some jurisdictions, so faxing is still a staple in government departments, the legal profession, and in B2B transactions.

I've also never heard of a virus managing to successfully infect a fax.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354336)

LMGTFY

May 5, 2000 - "Love" virus accidentally targets fax machines

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-240143.html

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354634)

Back in those days my mac yawned at fruitless activeX exploits meant for WinIE5, and loled at those .EXE downloads ESPECIALLY if we were dumb enough to doubleclick them; Linux browsers are just as safe, the same as a fax can't load virus code meant for Outlook Express 4 from 10 years ago.

Looks like PP forgot to read the article they posted: targetting and succeeding (at infecting with a virus) are not the same thing

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354392)

Faxes also have legal statuses that email doesn't, in some jurisdictions, so faxing is still a staple in government departments, the legal profession, and in B2B transactions.

While true, this is still stupid. Not a major problem in the scheme of things, I know, but when the very conversation we're having is about the fact that a modem can send a stream of bits to a fax machine as easily as to an email account, it's pretty clear that one should have no more bearing than the other.

I know the legal system shouldn't be jumping on the bandwagon every time new tech comes along, but it's 2011, there's plenty of precedent involving email. Either accept both or deny both, but don't make some arbitrary distinction between the two.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354620)

Faxing is the ONE true blessing the government allows, that prevents lines of people going around the office buildings, and keeps me from sitting in waiting rooms far too many times.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355304)

Either accept both or deny both, but don't make some arbitrary distinction between the two.

Arbitrary restrictions such as:
1. Reliable phone company records of sender, receiver and time;
2. Unlikelihood that the fax will be intercepted and/or modified en route.

Oh, wait, not that arbitrary after all.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354408)

You see legal importance, and we see antiquated laws built around antiquated communication methods.

Fax should have died out in the year 2000. Its resilience is... agitating.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354628)

    Aw.. Next you'll tell me teletype is antiquated. Bah. That's how I post here. I load it up on paper tape, and wait 20 minutes for it to send. EOT

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354910)

I'll be damned if I ever upgrade to teletype stop prefer older ways stop

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355616)

And I'd be posting in morse code if it weren't for slashdot's fucking comment filters. Way to ruin the joke /.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354448)

Precisely. Faxes also have legal statuses that email doesn't, in some jurisdictions, so faxing is still a staple in government departments, the legal profession, and in B2B transactions.

It's also still used where visual content approval is required. Monuments, headstones, printing runs, etc don't get done until someone signs and FAXs back the proof page. Likewise many construction operations send proposals and bids, and receive signed, accepted bids by FAX. Many medical operations like FAX because the transmission can not easily be rerouted or duplicated (without other office workers noticing the half ream of photocopies someone just made).

Yes, you could set up a scanner and hope the people can handle attachments and graphic formats, but for the time being FAX is the most cost effective way to deal with many situations.

Re:people still fax even in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355156)

Every time i have faxed something on my own behalf in the last 4 years, I have used an email-to-fax service.

This is so fucking dumb.

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354788)

Indeed, I recently helped to install a PCI modem in a newer PC exactly for faxing.

Re:peopel still fax even in 2011 so some modems in (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354956)

    Funny, I do the opposite. When someone brings me a machine weird fault, I yank the modem and then ask "Do you use your modem for anything?" They frequently ask me "what's a modem". I then ask if they hook a phone line up to the computer. When they describe a cat5 cable to me, I tell them they don't need it. I can usually tell by the dust buildup in the phone port, so I know my answer before I start asking silly questions. :)

    I had a box of them laying around for a while. I gave it away with a bunch of antique hardware. :)

Re:Modem Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354212)

Some of us still use modems to connect to the internet where high speed internet is not available and neither is cellular service.

Re:Modem Tax (4, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354456)

Nowadays modems are really rare; it's hard to find one. My server has one connected, which I bought about seven years ago, just to receive faxes. Not easy to find a shop selling them back then; will be harder now. It has never been used for a data connection. Nonetheless they are still available. Dial-up internet is even still available.

This story started in 2003, when modem use was quite common at least in Europe. In 2001/2002 I worked for about half a year at the telephone help desk of a major Dutch ISP, dial-up was for many people the main way to connect to the Internet. I recall even a serious reorganisation of the telephone system to accomodate all those dial-up users. At the time probably still more dial-up users than ADSL or cable users. By 2003 dial-up must still have been very common. And people that switched possibly simply had their modem still connected. Indeed nowadays this kind of fraud would not work anymore.

What I encountered very often when talking to people was that they had multiple dial-in icons in their network settings. One from our ISP, sometimes one or two from a previous ISP, and a handful of icons that they didn't even realise are there. Most were porn dialers, installed by malicious sites (usually porn sites), that would try to dial expensive numbers. This sounds very much like what these people have been sentenced for.

Anyway it's not surprising that it worked in those years, as modems were simply a really common way to connect to the Internet. It wasn't fast but it worked, and it worked on existing infrastructure. Add to that the plethora of security issues in Win98 and WinXP and these things happened - and happened a lot.

The most remarkable part of this story, besides that such a common crime even appears on the /. home page, is that the culprits have been caught and sentenced.

Re:Modem Tax (2)

isopropanol (1936936) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354694)

Over the last couple of years here (not europe) there's been a big push by the Cable (TV coaxial) company introducing their own phone system. a couple of months after switching many people find their computer won't POST. I remove the PCI winmodem and it POSTs OK... most of them didn't even know they had a modem until I handed it to them. I don't know what's causng it but it's too common to be coincidence.

Re:Modem Tax (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354722)

Interesting.

I have a similar problem with one of my computers: when I have my phone (Android smart phone) connected to the USB (for charging;USB is also used for downloaded data etc) it gets stuck on the memory test. That caused me a lot of frustration to figure out! Other computers don't have this problem.

Anyway to come back to your point: it would be most interesting if people don't know they have a modem, AND have this modem connected to a phone line at the same time!

I can imagine many have a modem as standard part in a computer which was still quite common a few years ago; so people with an older PC simply have one in it.

Re:Modem Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354890)

PC is probably trying to read or boot off USB device. Some BIOSes check the device ahead of time.

Re:Modem Tax (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354936)

A lot of laptops still have them built in. My three year old home laptop does, and the six month old one I have here at work does also.

I guess this is due to them being used for travelling quite a lot. Though I can't remember the last hotel I went to that didn't have some sort of wireless or wired net available. And I spent four months in remote parts of Australia last year...

Re:Modem Tax (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355092)

The new thinkpads [lenovo.com] coming out late march will still have modems.

And why not, they probably cost pennies in components these days.

Re:Modem Tax (1)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355208)

The most remarkable part of this story, besides that such a common crime even appears on the /. home page, is that the culprits have been caught and sentenced.

They probably just followed the money... Germany is a strict country when it comes to rules and regulations so I'm guessing that the premium numbers used required a german bank account which require valid ID (they check it!) to set up. The guy probably used his own name or some company traceable to him to set it up, and then it's simple to find the guy. He probably counted on it being an issue with a foreign country and a language barrier, but no such luck. It takes some time but it can be done.

Re:Modem Tax (2)

Mastacheata87 (1759916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354712)

There are some (pretty big) rural areas here in Germany, where people can't get xDSL or cable even if they wanted.
I know of at least 5 villages with about 100 citizens each in 20km radius that don't have any chance but dialup networking for Internet Access.

In some areas you can get Networking via UMTS/(E-)GPRS, but mostly it's not faster than POTS or ISDN Dial Up.

That's also why some of the lower frequencies used for LTE/4G Networks were given to provider with the prerequisite to install networks in those areas before the frequencies may be used in cities.

What about voip, Skype and Magic Jack? (2)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354770)

Presumably Skype and Magic Jack allow Voip calls from your computer to premium lines if you have signed up for the right kind of outbound service.

Additionally most people with voip have their voip modems as their frontline firewall on the internet. If anyone manages to either breakinto to those or otherwise sniff their handshaking then presumably one could make loads of calls and bill them to the voip plan (again assuming one has a plan that allows calls to premium numbers.)

That will teach him! (3, Interesting)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354168)

Gotta love the punitive vs retributive approach to justice in the West. Why not make the guy work towards paying back the victims instead or locking him up for 7 years and forcing the victims or us the taxpayers to pay for his food, clothing, heating, cable and housing?

Re:That will teach him! (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354176)

Are the victims well identified? I like the idea, but sometimes it's hard to restore to thousands of victims who may not be well documented over a period starting 8 years ago.

Re:That will teach him! (2)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354220)

It's all billing data in a modern country, Germany, with a 30 year data retention limitation for many financial/legal documents. I am sure it could be done if they really wanted to do it...

Re:That will teach him! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355198)

Actually, some millions of his gains were seized by the US authorities and now they are looking for the victims in Germany. Not to feverishly, of course.
And it does not have to be a modem - bqack in that time ISDN-Adapters were still very common in Germany.

Re:That will teach him! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354292)

He was also fined 7.9 Million USD and owes 2.2 Million in back taxes.

Not exactly the typical getting off with a slap on the wrist...

Re:That will teach him! (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354316)

It's good to see a custodial sentence AND significant fines.

Too often we hear about these guys getting off with a slap on the wrist and a fine equivalent to less than 10% of their ill gotten gains.

Re:That will teach him! (1)

Maritz (1829006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355436)

Yeah Kevin Trudeau [wikipedia.org] is a case in point. Talk about the cost of doing business.

Re:That will teach him! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354598)

Your not exactly smart. That 7.9 + 2.2 Million can be wiped away by declaring bankruptcy!

Re:That will teach him! (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354680)

I'm guessing he's already spent or hidden the money. What are the consequences to him if he doesn't pay the fine?

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. (2)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354492)

Gotta love the punitive vs retributive approach to justice in the West.

Some lessons are only learned the hard way.

Re:That will teach him! (4, Informative)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354502)

Because if we start forcing people to work to pay for their crimes, before long it morphs into a slave program with people being convicted on bogus charges for the sake of their labor. This has been tried in parts of the US in the past, and it has been a problem. The people who control the system don't have close to enough integrity to stand that kind of conflict of interest.

Re:That will teach him! (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355488)

Not to mention that it would require more staff than the current system does. In an ordinary prison it is controlled quite easily where the inmates are allowed to go, what they are allowed to do, and since they are all in the same general area you need less people to watch all of them. But if you sent them out to work for their crimes the job would either have to be something where they are also always in the same general area with controllable exits so that watching all of them wouldn't prove overwhelming, or you could only send very few select ones to 'work.' If they were sent to many different places you simply wouldn't be able to keep such a leash on them without hiring more people and that would defeat the whole purpose of 'working' in the first place.

Re:That will teach him! (3, Insightful)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354514)

It's more to make an example and prevent others from thinking of doing the same.

Re:That will teach him! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354682)

The next time someone rips you off for millions, or commits violent crime against you, maybe you can hire him to mow your lawn and pay off his debt to society.

But for many of us in "The West" tend to think jail sentences are too kind. Perhaps we should implement Taliban or Chinese remedies, then we wouldn't have to worry about food, clothing, heating, cable and housing.

Re:That will teach him! (2)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354778)

forcing the victims or us the taxpayers to pay for his food, clothing, heating, cable and housing

No worries. With the Internal Revenue Service collecting back taxes on his illegally earned income, he is (well, his non-US-taxpaying-victims are) more than paying his way through prison. In the end, it's the US government that profits from his crimes -- some agency expects a $7.9 million fine as income, and the IRS wants $2.2 million in taxes. Sounds to me like the guy owes a debt to society, and the wrong society is trying to cash in on it.

Re:That will teach him! (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355580)

"Why not make the guy work towards paying back the victims " this is unlikely. How much of $30M Simpson paid back to his victim's families?

"punitive vs retributive" you forgot the deterrent component - that is what important. Geeks and nerds (perpetrators of such crimes) are afraid of the prison much more than street-tough guys (perpetrators of conventional off-line crimes).

All in all, the crime was worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355592)

Let's assume that he stashed aside a few million bucks. Let's say $3 for the sake of argument.

He'll likely get out of his prison sentence after 24 months for good behavior.

So here's the question: Would any readers here NOT do 24 months of minimum security prison for $3 million bucks?

Given the above analysis, I'm going to have to assume several readers are already busy replicating the scam...

Dear god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354190)

Where they connected by headset couplers, or was Mitnick reading off of a teletype & whistling into the reciever!?

alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network Wo (-1, Offtopic)

hkeacc (2006806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354198)

Prosecutors say that between 2003 and 2007longtime~

Re:alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network (-1, Offtopic)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354290)

Will someone please FUCK ME RAW? I demand it, seriously. FUCK ME RAW. I'm a male, my ass is loose, would it be possible to have some young stud FUCK ME RAW? I'm interested in being tied down, gaged and FUCKED RAW. Are there any "cute boys" out there who like older guys and want to FUCK THEM RAW? Seriously, doesn't the idea of being FUCKED RAW excite you? Wouldn't you like to FUCK ME RAW? I'm thinking you might just like to FUCK ME RAW, but that's just an idea. Come on baby, FUCK ME RAW. Seriously, let's get down. and dirty, and put on some protection an FUCK each-other RAW?

Few Questions (0)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354200)

A) Did these people not scan there computer reasonably enough to detect the malware.
B) Did these people run a completely insecure OS allowing them to be infected
C) DId these people have enough common sense to run firewall software to prevent the infection
D) Did they not notice there modems dial out to a number they didn't authorize

Now I will grant that this guy should be punished, BUT i think there is or should be a reasonable assumption that computer users have to protect and check there own PC's and it's not entirely his fault, Now if the malware dialed once for a short short burst and never again then it can all be put on the guy who developed the malware, however if there was enough time in the attack to scan and detect the malware then he's not entirely to blame.

If these people didn't take the right steps to protect there computers then it's kind of like someone with an unsecured access point complaining when other people use there router, to a lesser extent even a WEP encrypted router. For once can we point out the fact that most users, present company excluded are really just not secure enough on there PC's .

Over all if there's nothing the users could do and they were completely the victim then fine, they can't be blamed. I'd be very very surprised if most of the reason this happened wasn't because the PC's were unsecure, running a horrible OS and sitting on a unsecured network with no firewall and virus/ spyware/ malware software.

Re:Few Questions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354218)

Yeah and she should not have been wearing that short skirt!

Re:Few Questions (-1, Offtopic)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354332)

I see this argument every so often.

Yes, she is stupid to wear that short skirt. the rapist is still guilty and everything, but she is still stupid.

Another example:
I get out of my car, lock it but leave $100 visible from outside. some guy smashes the window and takes the money. Yes, the thief is guilty and he should give me the money back and pay the fine (or whatever is appropriate by the law), but I am an idiot for leaving a lot of money visible from outside. If I ever told any of my friends this, they would all say that I was stupid to leave the money. And they would be right - I know that there are thieves, some may even smash the window for a cigarette pack, so, if I want to reduce the risk of someone smashing the window, I should take or hide every valuable thing that is inside my car. Even if the police catches the thief and forces him to pay back the money and pay for a new window, I would still be worse off because of all of the inconvenience. So, I do not leave valuable things visible inside my car.

Same thing with the skirt. the woman, if not completely ignorant, should know that there are rapists, some of whom get more turned on by seeing a short skirt, so, she should wear something different or not go trough dark alleys.

Back to the topic - yes, the guy is guilty and has to do time, but the victims were stupid and paid for their stupidity, just like the guy who paid a lot of money to help his son who got into a traffic accident (some other guy helpfully offered to deliver the money) and then remembered that he has no kids.

Re:Few Questions (0, Offtopic)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354700)

Yes, she is stupid to not wear that Hijab. the rapist is still guilty and everything, but she is still stupid.

FTFY

Re:Few Questions (2)

gsslay (807818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355432)

I don't care for your (oligatory) car example. Here's a better one.

You leave your car parked while you go to the store. It has a new shiny red paint job and looks glorious. You come back and someone has scratched their key all the way up the side of it.

The vandal is still guilty and everything, but you are stupid for going out in a shiny red car. You should know, if not completely ignorant, that there are vandals who get pleasure out of damaging shiny paintwork. So you should paint your car blotchy matt puce green, or not drive it.

Ask your friends, they'll tell you how stupid you were being. You're tempting otherwise innocent citizens to get their keys out and commit a crime they would never dream of otherwise. Stay at home, and for god sake, cover that car up. We don't care how great it looks, have you no shame?

Re:Few Questions (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355528)

Yes.

If you live in an area where such vandalism is common or you frequently visit such an area then it is unwise to spend a lot of money on the painting of your car. Why? Because it is going to be vandalized anyway and you most likely will not know who was the culprit, so you will not be able to get compensation from him, therefore you will just lose the money.

Where I live, thieves sometimes smash car windows even if there is a (possibly empty) cigarette pack inside, as such, if you leave your cigarettes (or something more valuable) inside the car as you leave it, you either are stupid (in thinking that it won't happen to you) or just ignorant (and do not know that your window can be smashed just for a cigarette pack).

I never said innocent citizens though. Criminals are like some elements of nature or something. They are there, you can sometimes get compensation from them (assuming you survive the attack (otherwise it will be your family who gets the compensation), the police manages to catch the criminal, the criminal does not bribe his way out, there is enough evidence for the court to convict him etc) if such compensation is possible (if you are not dead, do not get a permanent disability etc), but usually it's a good idea to reduce the probability that it is you who becomes their victim. Do not leave valuable things inside your car, do not display your new and expensive phone in a dark alley or near a group of thugs, lock your car, lock your home. Just like you protect yourself from lightning, cold, wild animals etc, you have to protect yourself from criminals.

Do you teach your kids (or did your parents teach you when you were a kid) to not take candy from strangers and not get in their cars alone? Why? Why not just assume that all people are nice and if some stranger offers a candy, he is just sharing and has no malicious intent? And if some stranger does something bad, well, it still was not wrong to get into his windowless van.

Re:Few Questions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354256)

It's "their", not "there".

You fucking twat.

Re:Few Questions (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354284)

A) Did these people not scan there computer reasonably enough to detect the malware.
B) Did these people run a completely insecure OS allowing them to be infected
C) DId these people have enough common sense to run firewall software to prevent the infection
D) Did they not notice there modems dial out to a number they didn't authorize

That's why I never leave the house without wearing a bullet-proof vest, a lead helmet and a condom... too many crazies out there.

Re:Few Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354402)

And a condom... too many crazies out there.

Are you male or female? Sorry, thats the first though that crossed my mind, when I read your post.

Re:Few Questions (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354470)

That's why I never leave the house without wearing a bullet-proof vest, a lead helmet and a condom... too many crazies out there.

Pardon me, I appreciate the basic caution in you advice above, but it's still silly... You see: lead helmets are still not as effective as tin foil hats...

Re:Few Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354286)

So, by your logic, if a victim is being carjacked by a man with a firearm, and is subsequently shot and killed because he refused to give up his vehicle, then it the victim's fault?

Re:Few Questions (1)

snkiz (1786676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354434)

Its simple really, the same situation as the idiot who left a bill on the driver seat. You have a choice, you can be aware of the dangers in the world, and try to mitigate them. Or you can be a brazen fool, and reap the rewards that entails. In this scenario, an insured car, in a lawful state is not something worth dying over. The "victim" was at fault in that he could have chosen to hand over the keys and call the police. A pain in the ass, but he'd still be alive, and he'd probably get a new car out of it.

Re:Few Questions (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354498)

The "victim" was at fault in that he could have chosen to hand over the keys and call the police

In some places, it is not enough. Sao Paolo - Nov 2010 [reuters.com]

"They had to stop at the red light and then all of a sudden five people were around the car, one with a machine gun, and they opened the door and took two rucksacks and disappeared. So nobody was injured."

McLaren's Button was the victim of an attempted armed robbery about an hour earlier but his police driver smashed his way through traffic to escape when the gunmen were seen approaching.

Re:Few Questions (1)

snkiz (1786676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354542)

I don't see your point, in one instance the victims cooperated and no one was hurt. In the other, the police were there to handle it, and again no one was hurt. Or were you trying to back me up?

Re:Few Questions (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355120)

I don't see your point, in one instance the victims cooperated and no one was hurt. In the other, the police were there to handle it, and again no one was hurt.
Or were you trying to back me up?

Sort of backing you when saying "you can be aware of the dangers in the world, and try to mitigate them." Just pointing out that the advisable behavior varies with the place and circumstances.

Re:Few Questions (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354532)

Now if the malware dialed once for a short short burst and never again then it can all be put on the guy who developed the malware, however if there was enough time in the attack to scan and detect the malware then he's not entirely to blame.

From the article AND summary:

...and then infecting German PCs with software that would automatically dial the numbers for short periods of time.

Its very possible that the situation you present here was what was happening, the wording isn't really clear (it could be intended to mean short-duration calls, or only a certain number of days/hours/etc before shutting itself down).

Don't put the blame on the victim. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354540)

Now I will grant that this guy should be punished, BUT

There is always a "but" when a geek is sentenced to do hard time.

Re:Few Questions (3, Interesting)

andrewla (722448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354636)

A) Did these people not scan their computer reasonably enough to detect the malware.
If the scanner was able to pick it up.

B) Did these people run a completely insecure OS allowing them to be infected
Should MS Windows users be banned from using the Internet ? Well yes they should, but I cannot see that happening.

C) DId these people have enough common sense to run firewall software to prevent the infection
What good is a firewall, the hardware port to the modem needs to be open to use the Internet. End of story.

>D) Did they not notice there modems dial out to a number they didn't authorise
Not if the malware waited till there was no keyboard activity, or the melware turned off the modem sound before it called.
Even if you were using the phone line when it tried to call you might not spot it, just a couple of clicks while the modem tried to get a dial tone.
The only indication is if you tried to make a call in the middle of the malware call, and even then, a lot of people might blame the phone company.


Yes it is entirely his own fault.

Re:Few Questions (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355550)

It's rather easy to encrypt modem data, so well it does have to be open, it doesn't have to be unsecured. I'm still not sure it's entirely his fault, I think there is some ownership that needs to be placed the people who's computers carried out the act of dialing the numbers. Just like your responsible if a kid falls into your pool if it's not blocked off properly, you should be responsible if you computer is not secured properly and carry's out an act such as this.

The hardware port needs to be open yes, but the hardware port can still have simple rules set on it, not to mention you can decrypt on SOME modems, not all but some. It's actually a CCNA lab you can take during the training. I'm NOT saying that these people would know enough or should know enough to configure modem based network security but none the less it is possible to have a secure modem.

You tell 'em Timothy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354226)

Do that many people still have modems attached?

Oh yea! Why can't the world be 1337 H4x0r5 like america, where everybody has teh T1.

Re:You tell 'em Timothy! (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354272)

T1 is pretty slow, common DSL is faster than T1 connection. T3 on the other hand runs at about 44.6Mbps which is fairly decent, but truthfully anything over 3Mbps with a decent pipeline is fast enough since web-servers don't allocate their entire bandwidth to a single user, however sites like Youtube require you to have at the very least 13 or 14mbps. However, this is straying from the point that the majority of the world-wide-web is connected via HSI (200kbps+), and I know you were trying to troll but the United States is ranked about #30 as far as average internet speed.

Going back on topic, it's not surprising that this kind of scam still exists. I remember dialer malware used to be very popular back in the day. I think there was a /. article recently about how most of AOL's consumers are by those who forgot they had the service or just don't mind having it as a secondary service. Funny yet sad stuff.

Modem??? (1, Funny)

Codeman125 (1168085) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354262)

What's a modem?

Re:Modem??? (1, Funny)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354486)

"Mod 'em"; plural for "mod it", meaning you can mod multiple posts at once.

Re:Modem??? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354560)

Modulator-demodulator. Handy for putting a few bits over an analog line.

Re: What's a modem? (1)

Slur (61510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355422)

> Yep!

- Where's the router?

> You bet!

- So which is the switcher?

> No, that's our shortstop!

Net profit? (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354268)

So they made 16.5m and had to pay 10.1m, netting about 5.4m. Was it worth it?

Re:Net profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354340)

If gets 7 years prison, and 771,429 is more than his annual salary during that period would otherwise be, probably. That is of course, assuming you can do something during those 7 years to make life meaningful, maybe write a book or write some code, I imagine white collar prison over there is lenient enough to do that sort of thing.

Re:Net profit? (1)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354594)

That was a different case (in Austria, not New Hampshire); this guy only made $8M.

Re:Net profit? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355038)

So the whole thing goes like this: "YOu stole 8 million bucks; go to your room for 8 years!".
I would take the shot. I mean, I wouldn't be able to make 1 mil/year even if I willingly let burly illiterate dudes pound my ass every night for money.

cadre of highbrow murders/thieves remain uncharged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354518)

just shows some of the unbalance? that situation appears to have the potential to change rapidly & dramatically (so we don't 'forget'.. again?) you can just feel the winds of change swirling all around US, & wafting directly onto much of the rest of the world? see you (soon?) at one of the many scheduled million baby play-dates near you.

Between 2003 and 2007 (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354536)

Read the summary before you editorialize Timothy. Yea, alot of people still had and still have modems, there has been a need for faxing documents and back then there weren't alot of pdf to fax services.

nostalgia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354554)

Wow, this took me right back to a time where there were security warnings about clicking on links which would hang your modem up and dial a premium service up. Forgot all about that sort stuff.

Fax (2)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354624)

I don't have a modem, but I do have a USB-attached multi-function printer/scanner that includes fax capability, which I'm pretty sure a piece of malware could trick into calling any number it wanted (might be difficult to keep it from turning on the annoying speaker as it dials). Which reminds me... I should cancel my plans to get a network-attached version that would be vulnerable to such an attack without having to infect any of the PCs on the network; just breaching the firewall or wireless encryption would be enough.

AT codes... (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355390)

(might be difficult to keep it from turning on the annoying speaker as it dials).

Not at all. It's a plain stupid "AT..." command. The default initialisation string sent to the FAX has it turn the speaker on during hand shaking (so you can hear if everything is working ok), and off afterward (no useful information from the transmission noise).
Just send instead a command for having the speaker off the whole time (ATM0, instead of ATM1)

And that's for analog modems. This is Germany we're speaking about, where everything is nearly 100% ISDN since ages. So no noises at all. The fax is purely transmitting digital data.

And as we're speaking about Fax, the fax machine could be a full blown FAX (with attached printer and scanner). Or could be a rather simple small USB ISDN soft-modem with a software suite doing all the work on the PC (and thus even more easy to control for a malware).

Sounds like AOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354672)

'unwanted dial-up software'

Sounds a bit like AOL :P

Do that many people still have modems attached? (4, Informative)

Tux2000 (523259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354738)

Do that many people still have modems attached?

Yes. While DSL, UMTS and DOCSIS are quite common in urban areas, there are still several areas (villages) where dual-channel ISDN is the fastest way to get into the net (2x 64 kBit/s), and many people in those areas still use analog modems (V.90) simply because ISDN lines have a higher monthly fee and dual channel ISDN doubles the costs of each internet connection.

Of course, there is also satellite internet access, but it is expensive, overloaded, slow (despite opposite claims of the operators) and has a high latency. Plus, you need a free line of sight to the satellite and the permission to install a(n additional) satellite dish from the owner of the house. LTE is the latest promise for fast internet access in non-urban areas, following WiMAX. WiMAX exists only in prototype areas, it still is not commonly available in Germany. LTE is only planned, no prototype area exists, and despite legal restraints to install LTE first in areas without high speed internet connections, the first prototype areas will be big cities.

Another reason to use a modem is the ability to send and receive faxes, as others already posted.

Costs for 0900 calls are very high compared to other numbers, and the 0900 owner can define how much is charged. There are two mutually exclusive limits: Either max. 3.00 EUR per minute, or max. 10.00 EUR per call independantly from the length of the call. (Source: http://www.teltarif.de/i/sonderrufnummern-0900.html [teltarif.de] ) So if you use the second option (charge 10.00 EUR per call) and distribute a dialer that makes one-second calls to your 0900 number, you gain 10.00 EUR per second and call. Gaining 8,000,000 EUR (roughly approximating 1 EUR = 1 $) requires 800,000 calls. If you can make 10 calls before getting caught by the modem owner, you need only 80,000 users. If you can make 100 calls before getting caught, you need just 8,000 users.

ISDN users are even more attractive than modem users. The V.90 handshake needs about 10 to 20 seconds, and it is noisy due to the modem speaker. Plus, the V.90 modem blocks the phone line. So it is very likely that the dialer is found very fast. The ISDN handshake takes much less time, about a second, it is silent, and ISDN offers two lines, so you can still use your phone while your computer is busy wasting your money with one second calls to a 0900 line. If that goes unnoticed for one hour, and each call lasts four seconds total, you have 900 calls from one user, 9,000 EUR. Trick just 900 users into using your dialler for one hour on an ISDN line and you gain 8,100,000 EUR.

Tux2000

Re:Do that many people still have modems attached? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355232)

There is no need for v.90 handshake or noise at all, proper AT commands could be sent to the modem to dial, wait and hangup.

Re:Do that many people still have modems attached? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355252)

LTE is only planned, no prototype area exists, and despite legal restraints to install LTE first in areas without high speed internet connections, the first prototype areas will be big cities.

I'm not sure what country you are referring to. In Sweden, there are already two or three operators offering LTE service in major cities.

Re:Do that many people still have modems attached? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355476)

The speaker of analog modems can simply be disabled by ATM0

3G Modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35354784)

...is the new dial-up modem found in laptop and mobile phones

Another use for a modem (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354888)

Modem card with "voice modem" capabilities, you can get software which will read the caller id info, and do what you want with the incoming call. Hang up on them, play a special audio, voice mail... the possibilities are many.

Rings a bell... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354898)

I remember hearing about someone who got busted for a similar scheme many years ago. He was a consultant at a brokerage, and he programmed their modems to call his 900 number periodically. He was somewhat careful about it, and was only skimming a couple grand a month, which wouldn't even be noticed in a monthly phone bill that easily ran into seven figures. He got caught when the company blocked all 900 number calls. Apparently, he didn't do a very good job of concealing the ownership of the 900 line.

-jcr

Modems for freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355302)

Modems can be used to access ISP's in other countries when the government closes the internet during riots.

Wow... (1)

Slur (61510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355430)

This would have been awesome. If he had gotten away with it.

Re:Wow... (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355464)

"Porn-diallers" (ie, premium-number dialling software) have been around since before the internet, many malware-based that would dial even if you didn't want them to. The only thing unique about this case is he's one of the few to actually get caught.

There's nothing special about what he's done (besides being stupid enough to get caught), and I don't see anything awesome about stealing from generally innocent folks - who can't afford broadband connections. "Rob from the .. poor.. and give to myself!". Yeah.. no.

Good wage (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355480)

7 years in prison for $8m? $1.14m per year wage is pretty good. I'd guess that a lot of hard-working, honest people would do 7 years inside if it netted their family $8m.

Also it'll be nice for him when he gets out after 4 years and realises he got a pay rise to $2m per year.

I don't think these "mid-range" sentences for high-gain crimes are really effective unless the criminals are forced to give the money back.

Re:Good wage (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355610)

Fortunatly it does not work like that.
He had to pay a $7.9 million fine, along with $2.2 million in back taxes to the US IRS.
Don't mess with the IRS.

Re:Good wage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355612)

RTFA. The Feds have thought of that. "In addition to the 82-month sentence, he must pay a $7.9 million fine, along with $2.2 million in back taxes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. "

Re:Good wage (1)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355628)

I don't think these "mid-range" sentences for high-gain crimes are really effective unless the criminals are forced to give the money back.

I agree. It is a Good Thing, then, that they actually did make him pay ... more than he took, even. FTFA:

In addition to the 82-month sentence, he must pay a $7.9 million fine, along with $2.2 million in back taxes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

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