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Teen jailed for 5 years for stealing credit cards off the Web

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March 3, 2011

A nineteen year old teenager residing in the United Kingdon who ran a prolific cybercrime forum from home has been sent to prison for a period of five years for using unauthorized or stolen credit cards he took from the Internet.

Nick Webber maintained the forum which featured about 8,040 memberships and which help commit a range of cybercrimes including the sale of stolen credit card and personal details to other Internet users.

Police officials recovered the complete details of thousands of credit cards from Webber's three computers when he was arrested in October 2009 after trying to use a counterfeit credit card to pay for a hotel stay. Confronted by lots of incriminating evidence, Webber pleaded guilty to cyberfraud.

The U.K. Court heard that members of the illicit group may have defrauded other banks and individuals anywhere between £ 12 million and £ 20 million. In court, was described as a supermarket for cybercrooks, providing guides on how to commit cybercrimes as well as a marketplace for stolen wares.

The personal details of around 65,000 victims were also traded throughout the website.

Worse-- even after his release on bail, Webber continued to engage in cybercrime, an aggravating feature that led to a far tougher Court sentence than might otherwise have been the case had he conducted himself in a more repentant way.

Three other suspects were also convicted in the same case. Gary Kelly, 21, from Manchester, was also jailed for five years after he also pleaded guilty to the same fraud charges as Webber along with conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in cyberfraud and conspiracy to cause unauthorized modification to computers.

And Ryan Thomas, 18, from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, who acted as the site admin for was also jailed for a slightly lesser sentence-- four years.

Shakira Ricardo, 21, from Swansea, was imprisoned for 1 1/2 year after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and handling criminal property.

Both Webber and Thomas jumped bail soon after their initial arrests in December 2009 before they were captured in Majorca and returned to the U.K. They now face additional charges as a result, such as jumping bail and fleeing the country.

In other Internet security news, a small group of Chinese hackers were successful in fooling Canadian federal IT staff into providing sensitive information as well as giving them access to government computers, leading to severe Internet restrictions at the Treasury Board and the Finance Department in Ottawa.

The news was also reported by other news outlets. Although the Canadian government has so far offered little information on the security breach, CBC added that the attack cut off Internet access for thousands of public servants, although service has slowly been returning to normal in the past week.

There has been no confirmation so far that Canadians’ personal information or other sensitive data has been compromised or lost, but there appears to be a full-scale investigation currently going on.

In what the CBC described as an executive spear-phishing attempt, the group of hackers used bogus e-mails to pass themselves off as senior executives to IT staff at the two federal departments and request passwords, while other staff received emails with virus-laden attachments.

In response to various media reports, the Canadian Treasury Board issued a brief statement admitting it had detected an unauthorized attempt to access its networks, but provided no additional details. “Employee access to the Internet has been limited for the time being,” said spokesman Jay Denny.

However, another source told the CBC it's not certain that the cyber-attackers are located in China. Servers based in China may simply have been used to route the attacks from elsewhere such as Russia, Iran, Brazil or other countries. Chinese officials immediately denied any connections to the attacks, however.

The Toronto Star said earlier this morning that former federal chief information officer and Treasury Board secretary Michelle d’Auray has asked staff for a list of Web sites they believe are essential to their jobs.

"The allegation that the Chinese government supports Internet hacking is groundless," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters during a regular briefing, according to the Hindustan Times. “The Chinese government attaches importance to the safety of computer networks and asks computer and Internet users to abide by laws and regulations in the country where such computers are physically located.”

For the past few years, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser has been warning about flaws in the system that could potentially put federal government IT infrastructure at great risk. More recently, groups like the CATA Alliance have been calling for Canada to follow the lead of the United States in appointing a Cyber-Security Coordinator to ensure a unified response to IT security incidents, build partnerships between government agencies, encourage R&D spending in developing new technologies and raise awareness of Internet security issues.

Although some earlier reports had suggested the attacks were in part discovered through Citizen Lab, the interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, the organization posted on Twitter that it was not involved in investigating the security breach.

In other Internet security news, an international security conference in Munich held Feb. 6 said that better assurances are needed for the proper deployment of cyber-weapons need to be quickly developed and treated with the highest priority.

The very influential 'EastWest Institute' is due to present proposals for the cyberspace equivalent of the Geneva convention at the Munich Security Conference, which has included a debate on cyber-security on its agenda for the first time this year.

Delegates to the conference include U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The discussion on rules for cyber-conflict follows months after the infamous Stuxnet worm was blamed for infecting industrial control systems and sabotaging centrifuges at controversial Iranian nuclear facilities. Some have described the malware as the world's first cyber-weapon though cyber-espionage in many guises has undoubtedly been practiced by intelligence agencies across the world for many years.

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Source: The U.K. Guardian.

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