21 October 2003

Romania Emerges As Nexus of Cybercrime

Overseas Security Advisory Council: "Romania Emerges As Nexus of Cybercrime
from Associated Press on Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The e-mail on a computer at the South Pole Research Center warned: 'I've hacked into the server. Pay me off or I'll sell the station's data to another country and tell the world how vulnerable you are.'

Proving it was no hoax, the message included scientific data showing the extortionist had roamed freely around the server, which controlled the 50 researchers' life-support systems. The FBI traced the e-mail to an Internet cafe in Bucharest and helped Romanian police arrest two locals -- the latest evidence that computer-savvy Romanians are fast emerging as a bold menace in the shadowy world of cybercrime.

'It's one of the leading places for this kind of activity,' said Gabrielle Burger, who runs the FBI's office in Bucharest and is working with Romanian authorities to arrest suspects 'and avoid the Sept. 11 of cybercrime.'

Law enforcement documents obtained by The Associated Press portray a loosely organized but increasingly aggressive network of young Romanians conspiring with accomplices in Europe and the United States to steal millions of dollars each year from consumers and companies.

Their specialties: defrauding consumers through bogus Internet purchases, extorting cash from companies after hacking into their systems, and designing and releasing computer-crippling worms and viruses.

Alarmed authorities say the South Pole case underscores the global impact of this new breed of cyber-outlaw.

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