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Entries in internet (33)

Friday
Feb222013

Indiana Man Dubbed ‘Internet Casanova’ to Face Charges

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The man dubbed the “Internet Casanova” for breaking hearts online is now facing charges for not just stealing women’s hearts but also their money.

Authorities allege that Ray Holycross, 29, who also went by the names Ray Cross and Ray Tompson, scammed and robbed more than 38 women in at least seven states.

Holycross, of Plymouth, Ind., will be arraigned on Friday in an Indiana courtroom on one charge of theft, accused of stealing the camera of Theresa Bridegroom, a woman from Mishawaka, Ind., according to ABC News affiliate RTV6.

Police say Holycross spent years logging onto dating websites to meet women before moving in with them and then stealing from them.

Bridegroom, 35, began dating Holycross in September.  Police arrested him at the apartment they shared on Tuesday after Bridegroom discovered he pawned her camera and turned him in, RTV6 reports.

Holycross is also wanted in Oregon on two counts stemming from an identity theft charge.

“I think he relies on girls that he meets on the Internet to provide him with what he needs to get through life,” Lt. Michael Budreau of the Medford Police Department in Oregon told ABC's Good Morning America in August as the first reports of his alleged fraud emerged.

Jennifer Clark told GMA in August that she met Holycross on the online dating site PlentyofFish.com.  She was smitten, she said, and the two quickly moved in together.

“We lived together in my house,” she said.  “I decided I wanted to help him.”

Clark told GMA that Holycross convinced her to sell her home and her car and promised to move to Chicago with her.  Instead, he took her laptop and iPhone, withdrew nearly $1,000 from her bank account, and then vanished, she said.

“He made me feel like he was going to take care of me and, instead, I was left with absolutely nothing,” Clark said.

Many of the women who met Holycross online told a similar story.  They said he is an online charmer who took off with their cash once they let him into their lives and homes.

ABC News has also learned of allegations against Holycross from male victims, who claim he swindled them out of money and other possessions.

Even his own brother refused to defend him.

“He digs holes, gets into lies and it’s just a non-stop thing,” David Holycross said.  “My heart goes out to all the victims.  And if anyone has the opportunity to avoid my brother after seeing this, do so.”

Attempts to reach Ray Holycross were unsuccessful.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

America's Failing Grade on Cyber Attack Readiness

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The man in charge of America's cyber operations said that on a scale of one to 10, the nation's preparedness to deal with a major cyber attack on critical infrastructure sits at a dismal three.

"Somebody who finds vulnerability in our infrastructure could cause tremendous problems," Army Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency and chief of U.S. Cyber Command, told audience members at the Aspen Institute's annual security forum late Thursday, according to multiple reports. Alexander said that since 2009, attempted cyber attacks on the nation's infrastructure systems have risen seventeen-fold.

"I'm worried most about power. I'm worried about water. I think those are the ones that need the most help," he said.

Top current and former U.S. security officials have for years been decrying vulnerabilities in the computer networks of critical infrastructure industries from water treatment centers to electric power plants -- largely facilities owned and operated by private entities. In his remarks, Alexander reportedly pushed for greater role of government, specifically the Department of Homeland Security, in regulating security measures across industries.

Two years ago, computer experts discovered Stuxnet, a cyber weapon of unprecedented power and complexity that was apparently designed to damage an Iranian nuclear facility. The worm had demonstrated what computer experts had long though possible but had never actually seen: computer code that was no longer confined to disrupting computer systems internally but could reach out and physically alter how a facility works, or potentially destroy it.

Before the worm was alleged to have been a creation of a joint U.S.-Israeli cyber operation, other U.S. officials quickly realized that such a powerful cyber tool may be turned on the homeland. In a Senate Homeland Security committee hearing in November 2010, committee chairman Joe Lieberman (D.-Connecticut) warned the worm could be used as a "blueprint" for other "malicious hackers."

Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism advisor, cyber security expert and ABC News consultant, said in January that since Stuxnet was a "plug-and-play" worm, other hackers or foreign governments could take it, modify it and turn it against the U.S.

"You can take out certain components and put in others and you have a very powerful weapon that could be used against the electric power grid or any other system that has computers telling machines what to do," he said. "The best cyber weapon in the world has been spread around for other people to have copies of… I think it's very likely that somebody could do this."

Months later, the Department of Homeland Security revealed that the original Stuxnet worm did manage to infiltrate a computer system in the U.S., but since it was only tailored to hit the Iranian nuclear facility, it didn't do any known damage to the American facility.

Sean McGurk, a former DHS official who is now senior policy officer at the Industrial Controls Systems Information Sharing and Analysis Center, told a radio show in early June that he had already seen hackers modifying Stuxnet for their own uses. He also noted that as one of the most computer-reliant nations on the planet, the U.S. is also one of the most vulnerable.

"Because everything from elevators to prison doors are controlled by computers in our country, these systems lend themselves to manipulation and potentially to destruction," he said.

Since Stuxnet's discovery, cyber experts have found two other highly-sophisticated cyber weapons: Duqu, a cyber program built in the style of Stuxnet but for espionage rather than offensive operations, and Flame, the largest espionage program in history designed to capture any keystroke, image and conversation even near the infected system. Based on stunning similarities in the code of all three programs, researchers said they believe they were all created by either the same team, or at least teams of computer experts with access to each other's original work.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul092012

DNS Changer: Is Your Computer Safe?

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the clock struck 12:01 a.m. ET today the FBI pulled the plug on the temporary Internet servers it set up to keep computers online if they were infected with a piece of malware called the DNS Changer. The pulling of the plug had the potential to leave as many as 250,000 worldwide without Internet access.

How widespread was the problem really? If you're able to see this story, that should be a very good sign.

Internet Service Providers (or ISPs), like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable, have been working with the FBI since January, pinpointing those with infected computers and instructing them on how to remove the DNS malware. The DNS Changer, the FBI said, was created by overseas hackers who were arrested in 2011.

The FBI provided weekly lists of IP addresses to the Internet companies and, in turn, the companies informed their customers of the issue and instructions on how to remove the malware.

If you received no notification, and want to make sure your machine is not infected, you can check by clicking on this link, run by the DNS Changer Working Group, a team working on cleanup resulting from the malware.

Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable told ABC News they informed users by sending emails and old-fashioned letters, making phone calls to them, even putting pop-up messages in their browsers.

"We did another last push last week and we even sent another hard copy letter to users. As a result, less than 1 percent of our customers will be affected by today's change," Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesperson, told ABC News.

Time Warner Cable said it has been working to make sure that even those affected wouldn't have their Internet shut off. "Time Warner Cable has set up its own DNS servers and any TWC customers infected will continue to be able to use the Internet," Time Warner's Justin Venech told ABC News. "We feel that we are providing a better customer experience if we allow any customers who are infected with this malware to stay online."

Like Comcast and other ISPs, Time Warner said it does not expect many customers to have issues today.

"We do not expect to receive many, if any, incoming customer service calls as a result of this issue," Venech said. Similarly, Comcast's spokesperson said, "We've seen extremely low call volume, but our agents are ready to help customers."

Customer service representatives at the ISPs have been trained to help those who call in with issues because of the DNS changer malware issue. Customers who call in will be walked through the fix. Many companies have also launched sites to help those who are having issues.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Will You Lose Internet on Monday?

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The FBI's temporary Internet servers will go dark Monday, leaving thousands of unsuspecting malware-infected individuals without online access.

What temporary Internet servers, you ask? They might have been connecting you to Facebook, YouTube, and this very website for the last month, and you didn't even know it.

Why is this happening? It all has to do with a piece of computer malware called DNS Changer.

It started in 2007, when a group of hackers -- six Estonians and one Russian -- allegedly started masquerading as Internet advertisers who were paid by the click, according to an 2011 indictment from the U.S. Attorney General's Office in the Southern District of New York. In other words, if an ad got more clicks, they pocketed more cash.

So they figured out a way to beat the system, according to the indictment. They created a piece of malware, called DNS Changer, that tampered with the DNS -- the thing that takes a website address and finds the numerical IP address to connect you to that website -- redirecting millions of Internet users to sites they didn't search for.

For instance, if your computer was infected and you clicked a link to go to Netflix, you would wind up at "BudgetMatch," according to the FBI. The practice is called "click hijacking."

Once the FBI got around to fixing the problem in 2011, it realized it couldn't simply shut down the rogue servers because infected computers would be left without a functioning DNS, leaving them virtually Internet-less. So it set up temporary servers to give malware-infected Internet users time to fix their computers.

And time runs out on Monday, July 9.

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(There isn't a planned attack this Monday that will shut down the Internet; those whose computers are already infected will lose the Band-Aid the FBI put on the problem more than a year ago.)

Who Is Affected?

Initially, there were more than 4 million infected computers in 100 countries, including 500,000 in the United States, according to the indictment.

As of July 4, there are only about 46,000 in the United States, FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer told ABC News today. PCs and Apple Macs have been infected. Routers and iPads were hit, too.

As of June, the United Sates had more infected computers that any other country, according to data from the DNS Changer Working Group, or DCWG, a group working on cleanup resulting from the malware.

How Do I Know if My Computer Is Infected?

You can check to see whether your computer is infected by clicking on this link, which is run by DCWG.  If the page is green, you're in the clear. If it's red, your computer is infected.

On Thursday the site got 2 million hits, but very few of those computers were infected, DCWG volunteer Barry Greene told ABC News.

Google and Facebook say they have also set up notifications for infected users. If you type in a search term and see a message that says, "Your computer appears to be infected" at the top of your screen, guess what. Your computer is infected.

Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are among the other organizations notifying customers if they have infected machines.

Important: According to DCWG, you should not need to scan, make changes or download anything to tell whether your computer is infected.

My Computer Is Infected. Now What?

The good news is DCWG has put together a page of trusted tools and a step-by-step guide for how to fix your computer.

The bad news is it can take a day or two actually to fix the problem, Greene told ABC News. That's because the malware is in a deep section of the hard drive called the "boot sector."

"The malware problem out there is nasty, and it's impacted society on multiple levels," Greene said. "It's extremely hard to get rid of. In most companies, if they get infected with it, they throw away the hard drive."

If you can't do that, follow the instructions. They include backing up your files and reinstalling your operating system.

What Do I Do if I Lose Internet on Monday?


The FBI and DCWG recommend contacting your Internet service provider. They'll be able to give you instructions on what to do next.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Murder Caught on iPad Video Chat

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death as their daughter's friend watched via an iPad video chat is being held in jail without bond Tuesday.

Christopher Piantedosi, 39, allegedly showed up at the Burlington, Mass., home of his longtime girlfriend Kristen Pulisciano's on Thursday and got into a raging argument with her in the kitchen.

The couple's 15-year-old daughter was in her bedroom video chatting with a friend on her iPad. She heard the commotion and went to check on her parents, according to authorities.

The girl found her father holding a knife and her mother fled to the girl's bedroom, shutting the door behind her. "The defendant then kicked in the door, threw the victim on the bed and began stabbing her with a butcher knife and it was visible to the daughter's friend," Middlesex assistant district attorney Nicole Allain said in court.

The daughter's male friend witnessed the attack on video.

"He could hear the victim saying, 'Please, please,' and he could hear the daughter yelling, 'No! No!'" Allain said. "He then heard the defendant say, 'You've got to die. You've got to die.'"

The daughter rushed out of the house and called 911 while Piantedosi fled the scene.

When authorities arrived, they found Pulisciano's body with a knife still in her neck after being stabbed 34 times in the neck and chest, according to ABC News' Boston affiliate WCVB-TV.

He surrendered to Massachusetts State Police on Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was charged with one count of murder. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at Woburn District Court on Monday.

"We allege that the defendant brutally and fatally stabbed the victim, a loving mother of two, inside her home," Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement. "We intend to hold him fully accountable for this unspeakable act of violence."

Stephanie Chelf Guyotte, spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney, told ABC News that the iPad is being studied and examined for forensic evidence.

A doctor told the court that Piantedosi has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had recently attempted suicide.

Piantedosi's next court appearance is scheduled for June 7.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr042012

'Annoying, Offending' Language Online Would Be Crime Under Arizona Bill

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Distasteful comments and online insults are a mainstay of many social networks and online comment boards, but a new bill passed in Arizona could send people who "annoy or offend" to jail for up to six months.

House Bill 2549, which had bipartisan support, passed in the state's legislature and is awaiting one final vote on a minor "technical change" before the bill is sent to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The bill's sweeping language would severely inhibit First Amendment rights, David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition in New York City, told ABC News.

"Even in talk radio, saying, 'I know this will offend my listeners' is a common practice. It's a tradition, speech that challenges the status quo," he said.

The bill states it would be a class one misdemeanor for anyone to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend" through electronic and digital devices. It does not provide definitions of the terms and what would be considered annoying or offensive.

In a letter to the governor, Horowitz urged a veto "to allow legislators to craft a narrower bill that addresses their concerns without infringing on the right of free speech."

He said her office acknowledged receiving the letter and said it would include it in a pack of materials for the governor to review before she makes her decision.

The governor's office said it would not comment until the legislation reached Brewer's desk.

State Rep. Steve Farley, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said the intention is not to stifle free speech, but to protect victims of stalking and bullying.

"It doesn't mean that the person is instantly going to be fined or put away," Farley told ABC News. "But if the judge determines it relates to other circumstances in the case then they can use this as another tool to make that decision."

Including Arizona's existing law, 38 states have enacted legislation against electronic bullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.

"I'm a defender of the Constitution like anyone else, but the First Amendment doesn't give you the right to harass or terrorize someone," said Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "This certainly doesn't or wouldn't restrict one's freedom of speech. If it does, it will be overturned."

Patchin, who primarily studies cyberbullying in the adolescent community, said he has heard from an increasing number of adults who have been victims too and welcomes the legislation.

"We need to step back and realize there is some harmful stuff that is said out there," he said. "And it really needs to be stopped."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan192012

After $350M, Success of Law Enforcement Wireless Network Still ‘Doubtful’

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General finds that the Department of Justice has spent $350 million on developing an integrated wireless network that has, “yet to achieve the results intended,” and that after 10 years of trying, “its success is doubtful.”

The assessment comes a decade after the 9/11 tragedy highlighted a lack of coordination and effective communication between law enforcement and first responders, and spurred a commitment to fix the problem. But according to the Justice Department audit, serious communications problems still plague the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies.

For example, the audit found that the Justice Department’s law enforcement components are still using old and obsolete equipment. The audit further determined that many of the Department’s radios do not meet some or all of the intended requirements, including limited interoperability between the Department’s components and other law enforcement agencies. The Justice Department’s wireless equipment is not even synched up with the Department of Homeland Security’s network. Moreover, the continued use of “legacy,” or outdated, equipment does not meet security encryption requirements, and leaves communication channels open to the threat of being hacked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov282011

Cyber Monday: Buyer Beware Counterfeit Goods

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As shoppers began to look for deals on holiday gifts on Cyber Monday, federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department were busy taking down websites that peddle counterfeit goods on the Internet.

Working together, the two federal organizations executed court-authorized seizure orders against 150 websites -- nearly double the number targeted last year -- that were selling known counterfeit items ranging from professional sporting paraphernalia to pirated movies to high-end Louis Vuitton handbags.

"Through this operation we are aggressively targeting those who are selling counterfeit goods for their own personal gain while costing our economy much-needed revenue and jobs," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. "Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability."

The websites were seized as part of Operation In Our Sites, which has targeted websites that sell counterfeit goods since June 2010. Last year on Cyber Monday, ICE and the Justice Department seized 82 websites that were selling pirated goods.

"For most, the holidays represent a season of goodwill and giving, but for these criminals, it's the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers," said ICE Director John Morton in a statement. "More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen and American consumers receiving substandard products. And the ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime."

A Justice Department report on intellectual property released in June 2010 noted that "annually, copyright piracy affecting the U.S. motion pictures, sound recordings, business software and entertainment software/video game industries cost the U.S. Economy $58 billion in total output, 373,375 jobs, $16.3 billion in earnings, and $2.6 billion in Federal/state/local tax revenue."

"Most of the counterfeit items are from overseas," Morton said in a conference call with reporters Monday, noting that many of the websites are linked to entities in China.

The websites seized include jerseygreatdeal.com, nfljerseysworlds.com, uggbootsclearanceoutletstores.com, and pumaoutlets.net. Visitors to the websites will now find Justice Department and ICE logos with text noting, "This domain name has been seized by ICE- Homeland Security Investigations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

CIA and NSA Websites Encourage Childs' Play

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Worried about what your children are getting into while surfing the Web? Well, how about organizations involved in intelligence gathering and espionage?

Despite their very adult missions, both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency have sections specifically for youngsters.

On the CIA’s site -- the same one that hosts definitions of cannabis, meningococcal meningitis and maternal mortality rate -- children and teens can visit the Kids’ Page where a cubist cartoon spy using her high heel as a phone presides over a “welcome” telling readers they can “learn more about the CIA, our employees, and what we do every day.”

The NSA page is called America’s CryptoKids and looks more like a B-level animated movie than a government organization PR campaign. The NSA has games, puzzles and a cast of animal security officers, including Rosetta Stone the multilingual fox, Crypto Cat, who learned code breaking from an elderly Navajo nanny, and Cy and Cyndi, the cybersecurity twins welcomed into the CryptoKids family last year.

So how do the CryptoKids fit into the NSA’s mission “to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information?” And why would the CIA offer a word find and coloring book?

Communication expert Joanne Cantor said having games indicates that an organization wants kids to have a positive image of them.

Cantor said companies that see children as a target audience, such as fast-food chains or sweetened cereal producers, “have all sorts of games on their websites to make the kids like them and to sort of recruit them at young ages, and that’s very controversial among people who consider marketing to kids as unfair.”

Cantor did not see the CIA’s and NSA’s websites’ messages as inherently harmful, but said they could be subtle recruiting tactics.

“I think, particularly with character biographies, they want you to feel like you identify with the people who work there. Like this is something you could do,” Cantor said.

But Vanee’ Vines of the NSA Public Affairs Office denied that the agency uses its site as a recruiting tool.

“We’re aiming to raise awareness about cybersecurity, our mission, and how STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] skills are needed in a global society that increasingly relies on information technology,” Vines wrote in an email.

“We realize the importance of helping to educate the nation’s youth and raise awareness about the National Security Agency’s core values, vision, and critical mission.”

All federal agencies are strongly encouraged to have kids’ sections on their websites, thanks to a memo former President Bill Clinton released in 1997, but few are as elaborate as the NSA’s efforts. The memo does not specify how detailed the website must be or how much money should be allocated to the project.

While Vines said the NSA kids’ page has been reviewed frequently since the new design opened in 2005, she would not say how much it costs to keep the page “fresh and relevant.”

Kids can see more from the NSA’s cadre of cartoon characters at the agency’s museum.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug262011

'Facebook Law': Injunction Granted Against Limits on Online Contact 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- A Missouri judge has granted an injunction against a new state law meant to protect children from sexual predators at school. Teachers said the law was so broadly worded it would stop them from using the Internet to contact kids -- even their own -- for the most innocent of reasons.

The law, called the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, was scheduled, until Friday's injunction, to take effect Sunday. It states, among its other provisions, that teachers may not contact their students through electronic communications, such as instant messages or Facebook posts, that cannot be seen by others.

"The breadth of the prohibition is staggering," said Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem in granting the request for injunction by the Missouri State Teachers Association. "It clearly prohibits communication between family members and their teacher parents using these types of sites. The court finds that the statute would have a chilling effect on speech."

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon joined in, calling Friday for the state legislature to repeal the provisions of the law concerning student-teacher communications.

"I will ask the General Assembly to repeal that particular section, while preserving other vital protections included in the bill," he said in a statement. "In addition, I will be asking for input on this issue from teachers, parents and other stakeholders."

The law was sponsored by State Sen. Jane Cunningham, a Republican from the St. Louis suburbs, who argued that all she wanted to limit was "hidden communications" between teachers and students that could not be monitored by third parties, such as parents or school administrators.

"This gives everyone time to debate and discuss the issue to come to a proper resolution rather than rushing to piece together language that doesn't resolve the concerns of educators or allow time for teacher input," said Gail McCray, counsel for the teachers' association.

In Missouri, the debate over what has often been referred to as the "Facebook Law" has taken on a life of its own, with several education and civil liberties groups calling for its language to be clarified.

On Friday, after the injunction, Cunningham said she was disappointed that the state teachers association had not joined with other groups to modify the wording of the law. "They're wasting their members' dues," she said, "fighting in court over something that's simple to fix."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio