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Old 06-21-2008, 04:18 AM   #1
Tarkus
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Default Hackers new low

excerpt:

Why Would a Virus Look at Kiddie Porn?
Malicious code that makes your computer visit illegal Web sites.

On Monday, a Massachusetts court dismissed child-pornography charges against Michael Fiola, a state employee. It was alleged that the 53-year-old had accessed the illegal material at work, but an extensive forensic investigation (PDF) of his computer revealed that viruses and other malicious programs—25 of them, to be exact—were the culprits. Why would someone create a virus that downloads child pornography?

So other people could secretly view the porn. Fiola's computer had been taken over remotely by "botnet" operators, who lowered its security protections and may have sold child-porn enthusiasts access to the machine. This enabled people to view illegal images and videos by storing them in Fiola's Temporary Internet Files cache, as opposed to their own computers. Fiola remained oblivious to the tampering because the bot operators made sure they didn't slow down the computer too much by consuming lots of memory.

However, not all of the porn on Fiola's computer arrived as a result of human activity. According to the forensics report, his workstation was often processing 20 to 40 pornographic Web pages per minute, a rate no human could sustain. This suggests that Fiola's computer was used as part of a larger "click fraud" scheme involving legal porn sites.

Under a pay-per-click advertising arrangement, Web content providers profit whenever a user clicks an ad on their page. Unfortunately, this system isn't too hard to manipulate: An unscrupulous webmaster can hire a botnet to make infected computers click on his advertisers' links. The most lucrative click-fraud schemes are those that target the best-paying ads, many of which are pornographic. And because some bots are able to navigate the Web without first opening an Internet browser window, affected users are often oblivious to any misconduct.

It's not impossible to catch a botnet in the act. The IT department in Fiola's office suspected him of illegal downloading when they clocked his bandwidth at four times that of his colleagues. But Fiola's computer lacked adequate virus protection—the software he used wasn't functioning properly—so he could not have detected the activity on his own.

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Computer Virus on Worker's Laptop Wreaks Havoc

Forensic analyst Tami Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Michael Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

A child porn possession charge lodged against a Department of Industrial Accidents investigator fired for having smut on his state-issued laptop Relevant Products/Services has been dismissed because experts concluded he was unwittingly spammed.

"The overall forensics of the laptop suggest that it had been compromised by a virus," said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.

Nationally recognized computer forensic analyst Tami Loehrs told the Herald Michael Fiola's ordeal was "one of the most horrific cases I've seen."

Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

Two forensic examinations conducted by the state Attorney General's Office for the prosecution concurred with that conclusion, Wark said.

Still, Fiola, 53, whose wife, Robin, described as "computer-illiterate," wants his day in court. He intends to sue the DIA for "destroying our lives."

"Our lives have been hell," said Fiola, a former state park ranger now living in Rhode Island. "I hope to recover my reputation, but our friends all ran."

DIA spokeswoman Linnea Walsh confirmed Fiola "was terminated," but declined to say if any internal discipline has been meted out as a result of his name being cleared in court.

"We stand by our decision," she said.

Fiola's attorney Timothy Bradl is at a loss to understand why.

"Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak," he railed.

"Anybody who has a work laptop, this could happen to," he said. "Mike Fiola is a hunt-and-peck kind of computer guy. He can barely get on the Internet."

Fiola's troubles began in November 2006 when, seven years into a job probing workers' compensation fraud, DIA gave him a replacement laptop for one that was stolen.

Months later, DIA information technology officials noted that the data Relevant Products/Services usage on Fiola's Verizon wireless bill was 4 1/2 times greater than his colleagues'. After discovering the child porn, Commissioner Paul Buckley fired him on March 14, 2007.

DIA turned the matter over to state police who, after confirming "an overwhelming amount of images of prepubescent children engaged in pornographic poses" were stored on the laptop, persuaded Boston Municipal Court to issue a criminal complaint against Fiola in August 2007.

After poring over the laptop, Loehrs reported to the court "with 100-percent certainty that the laptop was compromised by numerous viruses and Trojans, and may have been hacked by outside sources."

"There is no evidence to support the claim that Michael Fiola was responsible for any of the pornographic activity," she wrote.

All the porn, she said, was located in the laptop's cache, a computer feature that stores copies of Web pages. Consistently, Loehrs' findings noted, there was "no apparent origin or user interaction preceding the pornographic activity," some of which was downloaded "fast and furious."

**********************************************


This is a new low even for malicious hackers. Add in the normal rush to justice by prosecutors who figure they'll leave it to defense attorneys to shred their un-investigated case, you have an everyday, business as usual, Big Brother scenario where a private citizen's life can be destroyed without so much as a FU at the end.

Yea, the greatest country on Earth.

This is normally a WTF candidate but this deserved a thread of it's own. They earned it...
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Old 06-21-2008, 12:26 PM   #2
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Tarkus, you seem really bothered by all this WTF stories. Maybe you should start a thread for good news stories ... I know the world is not totally F'd up as it sometimes seems. Maybe it'd be good for you...
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Tarkus, you seem really bothered by all this WTF stories. Maybe you should start a thread for good news stories ... I know the world is not totally F'd up as it sometimes seems. Maybe it'd be good for you...
Well, good stories don't bother me at all so it tends not to be something to 'correct'/discuss/be alarmed about. As far as it'd be good for me? N/P here but thanks for the concern.

Some of us probably notice these things more cuz we're not sponsored with non-stop vacations with all the frills which might make things like this seem minuscule. The world just doesn't look quite as rosy without those kind of things to keep one preoccupied & satisfied..

Maybe things'll get a bit more trivial for me if I find a sponsor to help out...

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