Modern hackers ready to attack global security systems

The hacked smart phone of celebrity Paris Hilton has proved that hackers never lag behind technological progress

Practically all newspapers and news agencies provided an extensive coverage of the incident, which has recently happened to Paris Hilton and her cellular phone. A 17-year-old young man from the USA hacked the smart phone of the famous actress and co-owner of Hilton hotels, and uploaded Paris's address book on the Internet. As a result, one could dial the number of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Anna Kournikova, Eminem, Adrian Brody, Andy Roddick and other world-known personas. hacker

Click here to see the photo gallery of Paris Hilton

Digging in the contents of Paris Hilton's phone, the American teenager found quite candid photographs of the celebrity and her friends, which also appeared online. A court took account of the hacker's young age and sentenced the enterprising young man to only eleven months in jail, which was quite a light sentence for the USA. In addition, the man was forbidden to use mobile communication and the world wide web.

The “heroic deed” of the American hacker was quite impressive. It also unveiled the advantages (and probably disadvantages) of modern technologies that people use in their everyday lives. It seemed only a short while ago that cellular phone viruses could not exist. Hackers try to keep up with present-day reality, though: they have managed to conduct over 237 million attacks on personal computers during the first six months of the current year only, IBM said.

Some may perceive hackers as romantic individuals, who hack other people's computers for the sake of pure interest and curiosity. This assumption has changed a lot during the recent couple of years: if there are some romantic people left among all hackers of the world, they obviously make the minority. Nowadays, hackers blackmail companies and steal money from back accounts and credit cards. The majority of Russian companies, for example, never acknowledge hacker attacks, in spite of the fact that such attacks occur from time to time. Russian hackers have attacked such giants as Russia's Savings Bank, energy corporation RAO UES of Russia and others.

There are patriotic individuals among hackers as well. Some of them regularly hack the website of Chechen terrorists, Kavkaz Center, which belongs to Russia's terrorist No.1, Shamil Basayev. A group of patriotic hackers of Israel, known as K4H0L4V4N Team, has recently hacked the website of the Finance Ministry of Jordan.

There is another category of hackers, who neither hack web pages nor blackmail firms. They choose a safer and smarter way of working, selling information about detected program holes or bugs on specialized websites. It does not matter for them how this information will be used afterwards. Specialists for computer security say that organized criminal groups are ready to pay a lot for information, which allows to hack corporate databases or appropriate people's personal information. Demands always trigger supplies, making hundreds of hackers sell their knowledge of weak points found in such systems like Microsoft Windows XP, or Symbian, which is installed on millions of cell phones.

Certain firms specializing in computer security set up legal markets of hacker databases: it just so happens that they are ready to buy information from people, whom they vigorously try to fight with. The company TippingPoint, for example (belongs to 3Com Corp.), has already launched its own market of computer bugs called Zero Day Initiative (ZDI). The notion of a 'zero day' in hackers' slang means a hole in software, of which engineers know nothing about. The project stipulates a special bonus system, which can be compared to discounts, which airlines give to their regular clients. A person, who regularly reports software bugs, may receive up to $20,000 of bonus payments.

Computer specialists differ in their opinions regarding the activities of those companies, which pay very good money to hackers. Some think that it is a tribute to computer racketeers, others are certain that a market approach to the problem gives a perfect opportunity to receive extremely important information, which will eventually allow to guarantee more security to clients.

A Pravda.Ru correspondent managed to find out that Russian companies have not tried to use such practice in their work yet. Russian electronic security companies have their own special techniques. They say that anti-virus software engineers also create a certain part of destructive computer viruses and Trojan horses. They launch a virus online and then say that they have a killer for it, asking everyone to buy their programs.

Igor Parfinenko

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Author`s name Olga Savka