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The Long Arm of Microsoft

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the new-badge-wearer-in-town dept.

136

eldavojohn writes "Software giant Microsoft is helping the law track down and find phishers and political borders are no boundary for them. From the article, 'One court case in Turkey has already led to a 2.5-year prison sentence for a so-called "phisher" in Turkey, and another four cases against teenagers have been settled out of court, Microsoft said on Wednesday, eight months after it announced the launch of a Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative in March.' This initiative started back in March and has resulted in 129 lawsuits in Europe & the Middle East. Perhaps their legions of lawyers will come to some use for the rest of us but teenagers settling out of court? That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me."

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136 comments

Torn (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975560)

I'm really personally torn on this. I mean, on one hand, I hate spam and I hate all kinds of computer related scams. I feel that a lot of good ideas (like e-mail) risk death at the hands of these attacks. That said, I welcome all efforts to take care of this.

However, I would be a lot happier if the law took care of this. You know, if Microsoft would give every police district across the world free software, tools and maybe even hardware to catch these guys, that would be the safest route--leave it to the law to take care of these matters. But what I fear is that local police just don't have the time and resources to track these guys down. And, on top of that, law enforcement here in the states might find an illegal or rogue server in another country and have no way within their jurisdiction to follow the case across the boarders. That and in some locations, cops are crooked or they don't see the problem of phishing to have any tangible victims.

So while there's a lot of good reasons for Microsoft to do this, I still feel a tiny bit afraid that an already very powerful company is becoming a lot more powerful by gaining international recognition as a crime buster.

So, if you'll entertain me and let my tin-foil hat imagination run wild for a second, say that BitTorrent becomes illegal to use under some country X's laws. Now, I live in country Y (across the world) and I use BitTorrent to retrieve Linux DVD distro images. Microsoft somehow monitors this through my operating system and brings a trial against me in country X. I don't even live there but now I have to go there and defend a lawsuit in that country? That would be a horrible outcome.

Another fear of mine has already occurred ... that Microsoft offers out of court settlements from these individuals & personally profits from them. I would assume that amount is trivial to Microsoft & I would want Microsoft to punish these people to the extent of the law where they live. It would also be nice to see Microsoft turn around and donate any money earned towards anti-phishing and anti-spam initiatives.

In the end, I really don't think this is the answer to the problem of spam & phishing. I submitted this story in hopes that there'd be some good debate about where the responsibilities of stopping phishing attacks should lie.

Re:Torn (5, Insightful)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975848)

Microsoft somehow monitors this through my operating system and brings a trial against me in country X. I don't even live there but now I have to go there and defend a lawsuit in that country?
These are criminal trials we are talking about here. Microsoft is simply providing evidence of fraud to the police, and I can't see any way that this is a bad thing.

If Microsoft wanted to bring a civil case against you in any country, they could do it whether or not they are helping the police gather evidence for criminal cases.

Re:Torn (4, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976760)

I think what people are really torn about is that (1) people really, really loathe spammers and phishers, and want to see them lose(2) people really, really loathe Microsoft, and don't want to see them win... so who do we root for? It's like the tagline for Alien vs. Predator: "No matter who wins, we all lose". Is there an option 3, where both Microsoft and phishers lose?

Re:Torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976942)

Option3 - MicroSoft successfully procescutes cases against spammers and phishers why you use Linux. Phishers are vermin, I have no issue with declaring them terrorists and sending men in black out to put small bits of lead into their skulls at very high speeds. MicroSoft is a corporation whose business practices you don't, gain some perspective.

Re:Torn (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978142)

"Software giant Microsoft is helping the law track down and find phishers and political boarders are no boundary for them."

What I want think we should do is find out who's renting rooms and/or space to these "political boarders". Once we do that it should be easy to evict them and shut them down.

Or are we looking for politcally-biased skate boarders? Always knew those guys were no good...

Re:Torn (3, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976914)

No if you RTFA you will see that microsoft assists law enforcement with what it deems to be criminal cases, whereas what it deems to be "teenage hackers" it brings civil cases, and it seems from the article that many of these settle out of court.

As far as I am concerned this is vigilante justice. Just as citizens have no business enforcing the law, neither do coporations.

Microsoft's actions are the equivalent of citizens beating up paedophiles. Whether or not its for a good cause it is completely unacceptable behaviour.

Re:Torn (4, Insightful)

endeavour31 (640795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977084)

Vigilante justice refers to private citizens making up and enforcing their own law. Microsoft is working within the legal system of each country to bring this about. You are off base here.

If you object to MS getting involved at all, fine. I think for once MS is showing some decent behaviour in criminally targetting large scammers and just slapping down dumb teenagers.

Isn't this the company which everyone derides for NOT playing by legal rules? Now you are unhappy when they do and even show some restraint? /. does not need to invent the devil - - it has already found one.

Huge problem (2, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977230)

You'd have to be asleep for the past 10 years to not know that crime is absolutely out of control online, in the forms of phishing, spam, kiddie porn, etc. No law enforcement agency on the planet is able to do anything to stop it: All we get is one high profile case every 6 months or so on the major media in some kind of pathetic attempt to show that the law enforcement agencies are on top of it. I think that in this case, law enforcement needs all the help they can get.

Sure, everybody is still entitled to all of their rights (trial by a jury, etc.), but we desperately need more people and companies helping law enforcement in this area, because law enforcement is doing *nothing* right now to stop all of this shit from happening.

Re:Huge problem (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978212)

"You'd have to be asleep for the past 10 years to not know that crime is absolutely out of control online, in the forms of phishing, spam, kiddie porn, etc."

Phishing, yes. Spam, certainly. Kiddie porn? Out of control? Don't believe everything the press feeds you.

Re:Torn (4, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975872)

You say you're worried about a large company getting more power, yet you want to give more spying tools to the GOVERNMENT?

You claim to wear a tin-foil hat...

Re:Torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977410)

Um, yeah.

I can't vote Microsoft out of office.

I have no more choice in my use of Windows than I have in my patronage of the IRS.

So what's the difference, exactly? I guess the government has more guns, but that's about it.

Re:Torn (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975924)

So while there's a lot of good reasons for Microsoft to do this, I still feel a tiny bit afraid that an already very powerful company is becoming a lot more powerful by gaining international recognition as a crime buster.

And once they have achieved a good reputation as a crime buster they go after people violating M$ patents - voice of the public opinion: "Fine, these bastards who steal IP deserve that!".

Another instance of Big Brother.

CC.

Re:Torn (1)

chasisaac (893152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975982)

I understand your comments. This is something that I think is scary. The worst part is that I do not know why it is so scary.

You think companies like citibank, wells fargo, BOA, and 5/3rd bank and others who are the ones be defamed would go after these people with uzis. I think the phish people need to be punished, and terrorized.

W Does M$ really have altruistic motives? Where will money be made here. I am more worried about positive political feedback (i.e. bribes) for this 'free' service.

As far as being sued in another country. The Pirate Bay legal department does not seem to worry about this. http://thepiratebay.org/legal [thepiratebay.org]

The real question is where does this stop. We have all seen where something starts as good and leads to a quagmire. In the long run the people who are meant to benefit are entrapped in the systems and lives are made worse for the wear.

Re:Torn (2, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977096)

The money comes from them trying to keep their operating system "safe" for consumers. While consumers don't know and probably don't care that most phishing e-mails come from compromised Windows systems, consumers will eventually associate "windows == spam". The less spam that large e-mail servers have to serve, the less congested Windows servers will be, and the less likely they will be to go through a large-scale conversion to Linux (or any other platform other than Exchange/AD).

I applaud Microsoft's efforts, actually. They are targeting countries that don't have advanced laws to protect against this, and hopefully will help countries adopt legislation that will make these offenses highly illegal. While it would be nice to see an open, non-profit campaigning for law adoption, sometimes that just isn't feasible. Who would a government or politician trust about computers: Microsoft (who they probably already know since they run Windows, etc) or some Canadian guy who says spam is bad?

At least countries can use the Microsoft ideas as a starting point.

Re:Torn (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977446)

This quote, in relation to the raid by the Sweedish government, from TPB legal site sums it up brilliantly:
Just some stats... ... here are some reasons why TPB is down sometimes - and how
long it usually takes to fix:
Tiamo gets *very* drunk and then something crashes: 4 days
Anakata gets a really bad cold and noone is around: 7 days
The US and Swedish gov. forces the police to steal our servers: 3 days
.. yawn.
In other words, if somone in another country sues you under law X, and you live and operate in Country Y, you can ignore law X almost totally. You might get a bit of hassle now and then from big corps who think that illegitimate legal threats will be enough to stop you, but as long as you're within the law of your country you don't have much to worry about.

You must be kidding ?? (3, Insightful)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976050)


However, I would be a lot happier if the law took care of this. You know, if Microsoft would give every police district across the world free software, tools and maybe even hardware to catch these guys, that would be the safest route--leave it to the law to take care of these matters.

The issue at hand is identity theft, the police won't prosecute for crimes like this any more than if someone searched through your garbage looking for personal information. The victim has to bring the case himself.

I have absolutely zero problem with Microsoft filing suit against those phishers.

Re:Torn (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976590)

Why would you have to defend yourself against a lawsuit brought against you in another country, when what you did is legal under US law?

Isn't this what happened to Spamhaus? They got sued in the US and lost but don't have to pay jack because they're not under US law.

Unless you actually went to that country, you're probably perfectly safe.

-Z

Re:Torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977780)

Until they come up with a great way to tell one file from the next online, then mistakes will happen. I believe Hosting company's should have a means to check and scan their own customers for abuse. Most are crying fowl, and claim this is a violation of their rights to privacy. But I don't see it that way. A majority will be shut down anyway, by the very ones watching the consumers backs. I believe also that if emails were more restrictive of whom was allowed to send bulk emails out to the masses, then it would cut out a great majority of the spam, and phishing. Limit the ports used, and inspect the packets. Unfortunately what you see as privacy online, is not at all. A ISP KNOWS what you are doing. They just need a swift kick in the butt in the right direction. You can inspect, but be discreet. Plus put rules on just how far an ISP can go. And put rules in place to protect the public.

Re:Torn (1)

Cutterman (789191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978164)

I sorta remember something about taking the beam out of your own eye before you start extracting the mote from someone elses.

MS - Global Policeman (except of itself.....)

Political boarders? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975568)

I'm GLAD Microsoft is going after phishers. What these people are doing is fraud. This is nothing at all like the MPAA/RIAA using extortionary tactics to go after low level copyright infringement.

Re:Political boarders? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975628)

What these people are doing is fraud.
Well, that's what we hope they're guilty of doing. How many teenagers do you know that set up and run phishing sites by themselves? Sounds like these are kids taking the fall for other people.

This is nothing at all like the MPAA/RIAA using extortionary tactics to go after low level copyright infringement.
It's the phrase "teenagers settling out of court" that worries me. It's not necessarily that their motives are impure just that their tactics are kind of dirty. As in, we-probably-can't-pin-this-on-you-so-we'll-force-y ou-to-settle-out-of-court. I really don't like that, if you bring a suit against someone in the name of the public, I'd like it to be seen through to the end even if the person doesn't have the money for the lawyers (another possible problem with this prosecution).

Re:Political boarders? (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976106)

Exactly. By bringing a civil suit for EU2000, MS can essentially act as accusor and judge. There's no way the teenager (guilty or otherwise) can afford to fight it, and even if they can, it'll cost them more than EU2000 for a defense. So they're punished just because Microsoft makes them a target, and no objective examination of the evidence is ever made.

It's also hard to see how one could be a phisher _without_ criminal intent, so I question what Microsoft is really up to here.

Re:Political boarders? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976358)

How many teenagers do you know that set up and run phishing sites by themselves?

Actually, if you read some of the phishing come-ons, even allowing for English not being the native language of the author, there's a certain adolescent simplicity to a lot of them. Many of the attempts I've seen were clearly made by unsophisticated minds - they reek of script-kiddieness.

Re:Political boarders? (1)

Daltorak (122403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976814)

How many teenagers do you know that set up and run phishing sites by themselves? Sounds like these are kids taking the fall for other people.
I don't know about phishing sites, but teenagers have often been involved in computer-crime cases.

For example, there's Sven Jaschan [wikipedia.org], who was 18 years old when he was arrested in conjunction with writing the NetSky and Sasser worms. There's also Ehud Tenenbaum [wikipedia.org], who was also 18 years at the time he was arrested for hacking into various Pentagon and Knesset computer systems. Chad Davis [wikipedia.org] spent time in prison for hacking into the White House and U.S. Army web sites. He was 19. And of course there's Adrian Lamo [wikipedia.org], who was barely getting his 20s started when he hacked into the New York Times.

Conspiracy theories can be fun to bat around, but a lot of young hackers get into the "business" simply because it's fun, and it lets them flex their hacking muscles. Phishing sites are no different... sometimes people do it just to see what they can get away with.

Re:Political boarders? (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977082)

There are very few instances where individuals under the age of 18 in *ANY* country are brought to trial as adults, therefore, settling out of court is an acceptable option. This certainly isn't a "we probably can't pin this on you" thing, it's a we can bring your parents up on these charges (because they *ARE* responsible for their children's actions until they reach adulthood) or we can settle this and save you and your family a lot of grief.

Re:Political boarders? (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975802)

Heck, I think the phishers belong in jail, and the spammers need stern enough punishment to make them stop. If M$ can help out, more power to them.

Re:Political boarders? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976084)

You don't have a problem with corporation acting as law enforcement?

I sure as hell do.

Re:Political boarders? (3, Informative)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977630)

You don't have a problem with corporation acting as law enforcement?

I would, if that's what was happening in this case. It certainly is NOT what is happening in this case. They're helping out Keystone Kops in this case. They're not prosecuting anybody. They're working within the system.

If you want to get your panties in a bunch over corporations being involved in law enforcement, then you should read a bit more. You should know that many prisons in the United States, are in fact, run by private corporations [aca.org]. THAT is a "corporation acting as law enforcement". MS helping cops to track down phishers is not.

Re:Political boarders? (3, Informative)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976040)

Notice that Microsoft is suing only to the people that has set up phising sites that try to look like MSN/hotmail. Is not that so strange that they're doing it.

Re:Political boarders? (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976634)

I would think it far stranger to hear that Microsoft was proactively suing people who targeted other companies. After all, I'm sure every MSFT stock owner would love to hear their company was spending money protecting Google, Yahoo, eBay, and [insert-your-bank-name-here].

Boarders? (5, Funny)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975614)

What kind of boarders are they getting across? Surf-boarders? Skate-boarders? What have they done to deserve being squashed by Micros~1?

Re:Boarders? (2, Funny)

ppc_digger (961188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976038)

What kind of boarders are they getting across? Surf-boarders? Skate-boarders? What have they done to deserve being squashed by Micros~1?
Hover boarders.

They're friends with Griff and the gang.

Re:Boarders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976188)

What kind of boarders are they getting across?
Arr! Obviously they be pirates, matey.

political boarders (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975620)

political boarders - hate those, damn imperialists and trotskyites are the worst, they never pay their rent on time.

The o is not even close to the a on the keyboard, have to wonder...

Re:political boarders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976524)

"The o is not even close to the a on the keyboard, have to wonder..."

on the dvorak keyboard layout, they are right next to each other...

Re:political boarders (1)

Hexstream (892806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976870)

"political boarders - hate those, damn imperialists and trotskyites are the worst, they never pay their rent on time. The o is not even close to the a on the keyboard, have to wonder..." On dvorak [wikipedia.org] it is, you insensitive clod!

Re:political boarders (1)

Spike15 (1023769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977336)

"The o is not even close to the a on the keyboard, have to wonder..." Unless he's using Dvorak...in which case they're right next to one another...

One Microsoft Way (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975622)

When Microsoft has made itself "indispensible" to the world's (mostly underfunded) police the way it's made itself "indispensible" to the world's businesses, Microsoft will have more power to get the world's police "see things it's way". That means prioritizing, say, software piracy over, say, security holes. The cops in the street won't have much to say about the priorities, but their bosses at the top of their national law enforcement will "rebalance" their priorities to accommodate Microsoft's roles in their budgets and operations.

It's like bottom-up lobbying. Where our rights meet the people who protect them. Brought to you by Microsoft.

Re:One Microsoft Way (3, Informative)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976094)

So wait, Microsoft is suing people who tries to steal your credit card number and they're wrong? Actually, they're only suing pages that try to resemble to MSN/hotmail and that try to steal passport passwords. So suing people that makes your company look like burglars is wrong?

I'm surprised you didn't accuse Microsoft of paying all those physers to set up their site just to sue them later and look like they're fighting crime. It'd have been a good end for your sci-fi relate.

Re:One Microsoft Way (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976404)

Suing people is one thing. Direct operational work with the police, like the RIAA/MPAA raids to which the summary referred, is quite another thing. A bad thing. It starts to put some of the government's power to arrest into the hands of corporations. Which governments have already done with the RIAA/MPAA.

It's not Microsoft's job to "fight crime", not in person. It can fight crime by suing, by offering technical support to police investigations, expert witnesses. Most importantly, by closing security holes (before widespread releases), which Microsoft is not doing enough.

That's not "sci-fi". Those are the facts. The facts about fascism. I shouldn't have to warn a Spaniard about fascism, as your country was officially fascist until only 30 years ago. But this is the warning. I'm just the messenger.

Your PD uses a lot more than just MS products. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976322)

That means prioritizing, say, software piracy over, say, security holes.

So, elect local and state officials that will put enough budget behind your law enforcement agencies to make such support irrelevent. I doubt that will have much impact on where most of the phishing originates, though, which is overseas. By the way, if you think for a moment that companies like Motorola or General Motors or Ford or Taser don't have just as much of sell-to, but also be-generous-and-supportive-to relationship with city, county, and state cops, you're really missing the larger picture.

But while GM may sell a lot of Impalas to county PDs, there aren't a lot of people running around saying to themselves, "I don't know - I may not buy a car, especially a Chevy, because I hear that you can get your credit rating wrecked and your bank account emptied if you use one a lot." Microsoft (just like Apple, BTW, though Apple's letting MS do the work, here) has a vested interest in hunting down the people that use popular computer/network-based communications methods to try to rip people off. A clever phishing scheme might just as easily impact that mythological Ubunto-using Grandma or all those Mac-using soccer moms as it would someone checking their G-Mail account from a Windows box. MS, just like all of us, has an interest in shutting these clowns down. But they have the resources to present a solid case to (in the cited example) Turkish police. Not something that your local county PD could possibly put together without a huge boost in funding.

So, vote for people who back more funding. Or, take up any offer by anyone that helps to put the hammer on these jerks. Or, ideally, both. At the state level, it's either higher taxes, or reduced spending in other areas, or outside help. Or some less uncomfortable combination of the three. There's no free lunch, and there's no free international prosecution of Turkish scam artists after your mom's checking account.

Re:Your PD uses a lot more than just MS products. (2, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976584)

I doubt that will have much impact on where most of the phishing originates, though, which is overseas.

If we believe this map [websense.com] and if we are African, Australian or Eurasian, overseas is indeed worst.

CC.

Re:Your PD uses a lot more than just MS products. (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977580)

US cops aren't underfunded - not their operating budgets, anyway. Their salary budget varies, but I don't know of any that are anything but overfunded. That's not including pensions, the real benefits for cops who survive (practically all) to collect them. To be clear, I'm not comparing the salaries to the value of cops putting their wellbeing on the line when facing violent criminals every day to protect us. I'm comparing their budgets to the costs of their operations.

I'm talking about cops outside the US, the subject of this story. Those cops are usually underfunded. Especially places where MS can fill various political vacuums, including augmenting police budgets. I can't vote to fund those cops. And MS knows how to get the political leverage not justified by their execs' mere voting power.

And I'm not talking about just selling cops SW. We're talking about joint operations with cops, along the model to which the summary refers where the RIAA/MPAA jointly raid with the cops, even "helping" confiscate computers and other evidence. That's the problem. And where fascism really gets rooted, as corporations operate government interdiction directly, rather than merely petition the government through a justice system. That's where voting and other government reform of democracy has power. In the US, we should get the FBI to use all its intelligence and investigation power to support local police in specific jurisdictions.

Re:One Microsoft Way (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976326)

Microsoft will have more power to get the world's police "see things it's way".

In my days, this was called legislative power.

CC.

I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975624)

let the phishers do the phishing. helps natural selection

Re:I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16978080)

That sounds like the talk of someone without a dumb Nordic beauty with access to your bank account. I, for one, really don't like the idea.

Nothing Helga, just talking to my magic box on the inter-web. you'll get your turn as soon as you finish your lutefisk.

Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975632)

Most of the cases were Microsoft simply providing evidence to local authorities, who themselves prosecute the scumbags. In the small number of cases where Microsoft is directly taking action (on behalf of little-guy victims everywhere), I'm actually surprised it isn't Citibank and other colossals pummeling these dirtbags into the ground.

Comparing this to the RIAA cases? Give me a break. That's like comparing a rapist with someone taking a second glance at someone they find attractive.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (-1, Troll)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975762)

Comparing this to the RIAA cases? Give me a break. That's like comparing a rapist with someone taking a second glance at someone they find attractive.
I'm glad you personally watched all of these 129 cases go down and that you found all of them to be genuine phishers. How many teenagers are capable of setting up phishing scams?

You know, we were told that these people are phishers, if you can provide some first party accounts of every case, I'll gladly consider myself a dumbass for using that comparison in the submission.

It's the 'settling out of court' that sounds suspicious to me. Why wouldn't Microsoft drive them into the ground like you suggest? Why not bankrupt them and jail them?

I apologize for not blindly accepting this story as complete 100% truth. Forgive my skepticism.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975888)

I'm glad you personally watched all of these 129 cases go down and that you found all of them to be genuine phishers. How many teenagers are capable of setting up phishing scams?

In 98 of the cases it was a criminal case. In the remaining cases the culprits had no existing record and were teenagers, so they chose not to pursue criminal cases. Sorry, but it sounds like they let them off easy.
It's the 'settling out of court' that sounds suspicious to me. Why wouldn't Microsoft drive them into the ground like you suggest? Why not bankrupt them and jail them?

Every heard of something called a disincentive (is the word "decentive" really not real)? Drive them into the ground? Right. If they were driven into the ground they'd say screw you and force them to take them to court, or hand it over for criminal proceedings.

And you know what: Most of the RIAA targets did infringe copyrights with P2P apps. Few would argue that, but they believed that it was such a marginal act that it didn't merit the heavy-handed response. Most people feel very differently about phishers.

age a sign of ability? Give me a break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975996)

"I'm glad you personally watched all of these 129 cases go down and that you found all of them to be genuine phishers. How many teenagers are capable of setting up phishing scams?"

How many people are capable of sending spam? How many are capable of operating a P2P client? Age has litte to do with ability. And in this day and age of open source any "teenager" can run a powerful OS that can be used for good or ill. Let alone all the free scripts that automate the hard parts.

"It's the 'settling out of court' that sounds suspicious to me. Why wouldn't Microsoft drive them into the ground like you suggest? Why not bankrupt them and jail them? "

Because revenge isn't the purpose of the law. Getting people to stop doing what is illegal is. If a slap on the wrist will accomplish that, then so be it?

Re:age a sign of ability? Give me a break. (1)

Philnet.HFZ (923313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978236)

Yes, but how can we be sure a "slap on the wrist" will REALLY get them to stop? Then again, it would be negative press if they ground some teenager into the figurative dirt....

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (2, Insightful)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976056)

I apologize for not blindly accepting this story as complete 100% truth. Forgive my skepticism.

Maybe next time you want someone to take you seriously, you shouldn't compare downloading music to phishing, because that's the sort of thing that makes people think you're either too stupid to realize the difference, or simply resorting to grandstanding in order to try to make people think you're far more clever than you actually are.

Just a thought.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (2, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976068)

To expand upon my prior response a bit:

How many teenagers are capable of setting up phishing scams?

Are you kidding? Teenagers are capable of quite a lot you know, and teenagers are absolutely capable of criminal actions, especially when it's nothing more than sending out some emails against a template site: This really isn't the pinnacle of criminal enterprises.

if you can provide some first party accounts of every case, I'll gladly consider myself a dumbass for using that comparison in the submission

Your comparison was cheap and utterly clichéd: You were hoping to slingshot off the negative vibes towards Microsoft, using the booster-pack of the RIAA hate, so you're surprised that there's not a chorus singing with you about how these people just must be innocent because the tactic is superficially like the RIAA (though in any way that matters they're entirely unlike it, such as the fact that Microsoft is most certainly spending more money on phone calls for each case than they're asking in "damages"), and Microsoft is involved.

Sorry if we don't play along.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976796)

Well, when I was 15, some poor shlub bought me a CD-RW. And a new TV, and a new LCD screen.

When I was 17, my bank got let out for $8,000, and only ever figured out about half of it.

I could have pulled off far worse.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (1)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975918)

That's like comparing a rapist with someone taking a second glance at someone they find attractive.

Not quite. It's more like comparing a rapist with a kid who steals a Snickers bar from a store. They're both illegal, but their morality is not comparable.

Re:Phishers a parallel with P2P? Give me a break. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977308)

Unfortunately, a huge percentage of phishing is due to unfortunate Microsoft design decisions that they don't want to reverse. The "you can click on anything, even though it's not actually a URL" and the "we don't actually clearly show the contents of clickable links" decsions in Internet Explorer are key to many phishing scams. And pursuing a few easily prosecuted phishers does nothing to actually reduce phishing: it's easy publicity, but phishing is just too darned easy and too difficult to prosecute.

And the big difference (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977520)

Is that with phishing there is a victim, with copyright infringement there really isn't. Phishing is akin to robbery or assault in terms of crimes. It causes direct harm to a person through the commission of the crime. Copyright infringement is a crime along the lines of speeding or smoking marijuana, while there's perhaps some potential harm, there's no direct harm. With copyright infringement nothing is lost but a potential sale. Sure, if someone copies an album they might not buy it, but then they might not have bought it in the first place. There's no actual loss. However with phishing there is, the person who's identity is stolen is actually hurt, their money is actually taken, their credit is actually damaged, etc.

Very, very different class of crimes, even though the media industry would like to try to make infringement out to be worse then theft.

No.. (5, Insightful)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975644)

teenagers settling out of court? That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me.

No, it only shows that teenagers do all sorts of things online, including copyright infringement and phishing. Or are you saying that teenagers shouldn't be tried under the laws of the country?

Political "boarders" (-1, Redundant)

franksands (938435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975652)

I would like to know what is this. Is this some kind of bulletin board where political matters are discussed? Or is it managers responsible for board meetings of political nature? Please clarify.

Throw the book at them (5, Insightful)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975654)

...but teenagers settling out of court? That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me.
These teenagers are phishing; they are attemtping to defraud others of their money. This is not low level copyright violation. IMO they should have to do some time for it.

Re:Throw the book at them (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976030)

FIrst off, how do you know they were phishing? I think his point was that they may ahve been accused of it and it was just cheaper to settle out of court then to defend themselves.

They are not guilty until a court says so.

Also, Jail is a bad place to put a teenager, and it is counter productive for society. It si better to give them a on jail sentence, and then remove it from there record after it has been served. Too many kids do stupid things just because they are kids. It does society no good to let a stupid act ruin someones future.

I did something stupid with computers in the 80's. If I ahd gone to fail I can't imagine I wuld be able to get a job today that pays well, and it turn puts more taxes into the system.

And please do not rebut with "so if they killed someone..." argument. We are talking about a non violent crime here. Keep it in proportion.

Finally, most 'evidence' of this nature points to an ip address, not a person. Something that must be dealt with carefully.

War Games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976456)

I did something stupid with computers in the 80's.

Matthew Broderick, is that you?

Re:Throw the book at them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976458)

Rush was a band, tard, not "musicians". Plus you didn't even get the lyric right. It's "ANY god or government". And your comment is barely literate.

Re:Throw the book at them (1)

unc0nn3ct3d (952682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976782)

while I agree that their guilt should be 100% proven, if they are phishing and found guilty then so be it. They are purposefully going after individual people and trying to defraud them of their hard earned money. Which, as silly as it sounds, I find different than someone innocently downloading music and defrauding massive studios of their not-so-hard-earned money. Teens or no teens if you want to try to steal money from me, fucking rights I'm all over charging you with a crime. I did stupid things with computers when I was young sure, but I'd never do anything that would damage another person purposefully or defraud them of money. Probably because I actually had parents that gave a shit about me, what I was doing and spent actual real time iwth me on a daily basis as apposed to most of the punks that roam unchecked today.

Re:Throw the book at them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976176)

Agreed, there is a distinct difference between copyright infringment and fraud. And I would bet the RIAA/MPAA punishments are more severe. Go figure.

The war on tactics (3, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975722)

That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me.
Uh oh, we certainly wouldn't want people working for good (in this case), to learn tactics from bad guys!

This isn't the RIAA (5, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975764)

While criminal complaints are aimed at what Microsoft believes to be real criminals, the civil lawsuits are aimed mainly at young people without criminal intent. For them, settlements of 1,000 to 2,000 euros ($1,290-$2,570) are deemed to be enough of a deterrent, Microsoft said.

Those are much smaller settlements than the RIAA is asking for, and I dare say that they either don't cover, or barely cover the legal fees that Microsoft incurs from these actions.

This doesn't look at all like the kind of profit-making enterprise the RIAA is engaging in. Rather, it looks like MS is trying to deter criminals and criminals-in-training from ripping people off.

Of course, they are doing it for their own business reasons. It makes them look bad when people get scammed because of security vulnerabilities in IE. But I don't see how you can draw an evil motivation out of it.

Screw the teenagers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975794)

"Perhaps their legions of lawyers will come to some use for the rest of us but teenagers settling out of court? That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me." ...who cares. Steal credit card information, go to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison and learn to like it.

Article Bias (2, Interesting)

icedivr (168266) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975816)

The statement that people are reacting to is "... the civil lawsuits are aimed mainly at young people without criminal intent." But you have to ask yourself, who's the author, what their bias, andy how did they decide that these young people DON'T have criminal intent. I didn't read anything to substantiate the author's statement.

Re:Article Bias (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975900)

how did they decide that these young people DON'T have criminal intent
I have no idea. I think it's quite clear from the comments that have been posted here that there was very malicious criminal intent and that nobody could possibly have been wrongly accused. If so many people come to the same conclusion, why does it matter how much they know about the situation?

As vista looms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975842)

Will we be seeing the black hand reaching out of Mor^wRedmond more regularly?

WGA finally useful. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16975910)

Finally, WGA put to good use. Remember, WGA will not collect any personal information....

Do political boarders pay rent? (1)

techmuse (160085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16975940)

Perhaps you meant political borders. :-)

Re:Do political boarders pay rent? (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976162)

Thank you so very much for pointing this out, as the rest of us "Slashies" are far too stupid to have figured out what he meant by the context. Would you like a hero cookie?

Aikon-

Re:Do political boarders pay rent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977168)

no i'd rather be allowed to stick a cucumber up your anus, faggot

Lottery scam (419) (2, Interesting)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976124)

I forwarded a couple of "You have won the Microsoft Lottery" 419 scams to their abuse address but they don't appear to be interested.
I get a reply that I should contact the local police. As if I would be interested to waste my time.
It is *their* name that gets abused, and I help them by forwarding scam mails they can use as evidence, but that is all the effort I am going to make.

Woe is nigerians and teens (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976190)

Those poor phishers, having to send emails to defraud people of their hard-earned money, then having their livelihood ripped from beneath them by a software behemoth.

DAMN YOU MICROSOFT, I LOOK FORWARD TO "HELLO DEAR SIR" AND "UK LOTTERY INVESTIGATION" EMAILS, THEY MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT!!

Coming soon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976210)

"My name is Gates. I carry a badge. I was working the day watch out of Phishing when the call came in - two kids in Uzbekistan were phishing people in Denver on the old Nigerian money scam. My job: bust 'em."

Da-de Dum DUM!

Jack Webb IS Bill Gates in

Drag the NET!

Coming soon on MSNBC!

Lee Darrow, C.H.

Typical /. Editorizlization in the Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976212)

Come on, just because it's MS they gotta go and lump it in with RIAA as the evil-doers of the world. Nevermind that phishing is far more grievous than downloading a song of the internet. Get over it.

Not To Me (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976268)

That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me.

Not to me. Filesharing doesn't impact me personally, nor likely the poor starving recording artists who aren't going to get their money whether or not the RIAA and the record companies actually collect it.

Pishing crimes are far worse on my personal scale of the sewer that the Internet has become, and anything that makes those criminals suffer is a Good Thing.

Microsoft should take it a step further (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976328)

I think Microsoft could help law enforcement by helping the individual officers and agents who perform the raids and arrests. You know the SWAT team guy who busts the door open? Ballmer could train Microsoft agents to do the same thing by throwing a chair at the door...

The still even longer arm of TARGET. (2, Informative)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976350)

IF there is something worse than a monopoly then it's a vigilante corporation.
So if you think it's bad Microsoft is now policing the net, well did you know that
the _SCUM_ behind your friendly TARGET store may well someday hold a cold barrel
to the back of your neck?

>>> Retailer Target branches out into police work

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2006/01/28/AR2006012801268_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

"Target is pushing forward a different model of corporate giving," ... Exxon Mobil, for example, is building hospitals in the developing world. Cargill Corp. is building schools in areas where potential employees lacked basic skills...

In the past few years, the retailer has taken a lead role in teaching government agencies how to fight crime by applying state-of-the-art technology used in its 1,400 stores. Target's effort has touched local, state, federal and international agencies.
Besides running its forensics lab in Minneapolis, Target has helped coordinate national undercover investigations and worked with customs agencies on ways to make sure imported cargo is coming from reputable sources or hasn't been tampered with. It has contributed money for prosecutor positions to combat repeat criminals, provided local police with remote-controlled video surveillance systems, and linked police and business radio systems to beef up neighborhood foot patrols in parts of several major cities. It has given management training to FBI and police leaders, and linked city, county and state databases to keep track of repeat offenders.

Much as I dislike M$..... (3, Insightful)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976356)

.... I have to admit that when it comes to crime, they done a few good things for the universe. The best thing I can think of is besides the topics covered in this article CETS which is a Microsoft designed product to fight child pron/exploitation.

http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/news/2005/n_0510_e.htm [rcmp-grc.gc.ca]

Before we go bashing M$, maybe we should at least give an "attaboy" as they occasionally do good.

Look at the live situation of phishing (2, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976616)

Hi,

Here is the nightmare situation of current phishing all with some https: hosts (rare), decimal IPs, Geocities hosted Yahoo phishing pages which sends mail to Gmail (yes!) etc.

http://www.phishtank.com/ [phishtank.com]

Watch and get amazed everyday, for help, submit or verify the open data.

The situation is already out of hand IMHO.

Speaking of Phishing (3, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976934)

Scene opens. Zonk is sitting in the super secret Slashdot tower of geekdom, pissed that CmdrTaco made him work the Black Friday shift while CowboyNeal is shopping for new boots and matching chaps.

Zonk: okay okay, time to post some slashdot stories. What to do what to do...

Zonk hits a button and instantly hundreds of submissions appear on his 52 inch computer screen

Zonk: Computer, scan for submissions relating to Microsoft or Bill gates. Group by content.

The computer buzzes and whirs for two seconds and the display changes

Computer: Algorythmic analysis shows 13 distinct possible stories. List is as follows:

1) Melinda Gates has alien baby
2) Windows Vista kills small puppies
3) Steve Ballmer makes anti-semetic remarks at PC Expo
4) Bill Gates declares "All your iPod are belong to Zune!" in internal memo. ....

Zonk: *abruptly cuts of the computer* Run believability algorythm 259. Display only titles a typical slashdot reader might believe as real.

Computer: Two titles remain. List is as follows.

1) Microsoft launches new Anti-linux propoganda
2) Microsoft assists in anti-phishing efforts

Zonk: Hmmmmm, run inflamatory index algorythm 86 on both titles.

Computer: Complete. Report is as follows:

Title group: Microsoft launches new Anti-linux propoganda
Inflamatory index: 23
Stories show high incidence of anti-microsoft sentiment and pro-linux stories. There is a high degree of correlation in past stories, leading to ideas that it's been rehashed too often. This may lead to a high level of "I've seen this damn story before" posts by readers. However, due to the extreme number of this type of post, index is relatively low as topic is had reached the "JonKatz" threshold of repitition, and most readers will probably ignore it.

Would you like me to run an accuracy scan index on the articles to see if this article group may be true?

Zonk: nono I don't care about that, continue with report.

Computer: Continuing with report:
Title group: Microsoft assists in anti-phishing efforts
Inflamatory index: 67
Stories show low incidence of Anti-microsoft sentiment and no pro linux sentiment. Articles appear to case MS in a good light. All factors lead to low inflamatory index except for one. One or more articles express anti-RIAA/MPAA sentiment for no particular reason. Existance of extreme, unwarranted attempt to link article to RIAA/MPAA leads to incredibly high index.

Zonk: hot damn! Scan all submissions and run inflamatory index on each submission. List submission with highest chance of "WTF this is nothing like the RIAA/MPAA."

Computer: Article returned: "The Long Arm of Microsoft."

Zonk: Sweet! Computer post at 11:53 AM with no additions or changes. Open up T1 lines 4 and 7 to accomodate the extra connections and prepare the fire supression systems. That will phish a good number of comments and help us get our hits up for the day.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how and why slashdot posts articles with stupidity like that RIAA comment

Accurate...almost (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977434)

At first, I was reading your explination, and I thought, "Hey, this sounds plausible. This probably is close to correct". Then, I remembered that Slashdot is still running MySQL, and goes down more than a Republican hooker in Washington, DC. So, I think that your premise is plausable, but only if there were some real technical expertise over at the Slashdot offices.

You guys are fucking stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977052)

If Microsoft started investigating and tracking down pedophiles online, you guys would be up in arms and defending the pedophiles. Fuck YOU ALL. Nothing Microsoft does can ever be good, eh? Everything is full of suspicion. Good, live that way you tin foil fucks.

These guys are phishers. Microsoft is not prosecuting them, they are providing evidence. Why all of a sudden do you think they would be bad for doing this? Next you will be defending NAMBLA's policies because Microsoft goes against pedophiles.

Bill "I won because I have more money than you and a wife that is better looking than any pussy you fucking nerds will get" Gates

Oh dear, poor logic again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977362)

"but teenagers settling out of court? That reeks of RIAA/MPAA tactics to me."

Oh dear. So of course teenagers aren't capable of committing crimes are they? No, of course not.
If you are phishing there is no good reason to do so. Phishing is for one purpose only,
deception, identity theft and all the other things that go with it.

A millions miles away from RIAA/MPAA type actions.

A teenager can be old enough to hold credit cards, have bank accounts to put the money in
that they defraud. Or they could be working with older people that do have such accounts.

Come on, put your thinking cap on. This isn't hard at all. Identity theft and stuff like that
ruin peoples lives and thats an understatement. ...and you're gripping that some teenagers are
settling our of court? Jeez.

It must be said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977748)

I, for one, welcome our long-armed, chair-throwing, UI licensing overlords.
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