In the book written by Kate Fazzini, she talked about some of the less well-known cybercrime who have been in the news. As a cybersecurity expert, she met these hackers and other people who worked in the field. As needed, she changed the names of places and people in her stories.
I checked the stories in the news and on government websites to make sure they were true, and I’ve put some links to them down below for more reading:
Track2 (Roman Seleznev)
The book is a story about Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, also known as Valery Romanov. Seleznev is a Russian cybercriminal who stole credit card information and sold at least 2 million payment card numbers by hacking into retail point-of-sale systems and installing malicious software that let him steal from more than 500 American businesses 3,700 financial institutions. He lived a very comfortable life while corporations and people like us had a hard time.
As a pioneer of modern cybercrime, he has been called one of the most revered hackers at point-of-sale. New York Times published his letter in which he talked about how he became interested in cybercrime and how sorry he was for the crimes he had committed. It was interesting to read.
Romania (Râmnicu Vâlcea)
Arnica Valka is the name of the city in the book. It is known as Hackerville or the capital of Internet theft because of its reputation as a place where criminal hackers can grow up. It started after the Romanian revolution and the fall of communism in 1989, says an ex-FBI assistant legal attache at the U.S. embassy in Bucharest. This led to a long period of economic turmoil for the country. Romanov’s story is the same. He was desperate to stay alive, so he went on a computer and learned how to make money quickly and take money away from other people.
Marcel Lazar Lehel, also known as Guccifer, was one of the most well-known hackers. He intentionally gained access to the personal email and social media accounts of about 100 Americans to get their personal information and emails illegally. He said that people who were close to two former U.S. presidents, a member of the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an advisor to the president are among Lazar’s victims.
News stories say that these people include Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Bush family. He also said that he found Hillary Clinton’s private email account by hacking into the account of her former political adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, in 2013. Two years later, it was found out that Hillary Clinton only used her email account, which was linked to a private server at her New York home, while she was secretary of state. The FBI’s job was to look into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email while she worked at the State Department. This has been a problem for her during her campaign.
Hackers from Romania are mentioned in the book. One of them is Sigmar “Sig” Himmelman, who founded TechSolu, which looks like an I.T. security company but is a hacking business that uses ransomware to get into corporate networks and infect them. They then demand money from the company to “unfreeze” the files. Daily, innocent and hard-working people were targeted. Kate may have changed his name in the book, so I couldn’t find any news stories about him before the book came out in 2019.
A quick Google search shows that in December 2021, a Romanian ransomware affiliate was arrested for targeting high-profile organizations and stealing sensitive data. The suspect’s name was not made public by the authorities. A month ago, Romanian police arrested two people they thought were behind cyberattacks that used REvil ransomware. Kate would be the only person who could tell if one of these hackers was the source of Sig’s character.
The book also talks about René Kreutz, a young woman hired by Sig to work for TechSolu as a customer service rep. She made CEOs beg for their files and emails, but she fell in love with Sig and had a child. In the end, she had a change of heart and left. She has a good, middle-level executive title with a nice, well-known company.
Again, some of Kate’s sources aren’t named because they now have very different lives, like René. The book is called “Bo” because Bolin used to be a hacker for China’s People Liberation Army. The Russians inspired Bolin to steal business plans and sell them. When he worked at a hotel, he made guests pick up “free USB storage devices” so he could load malware on them, download business spreadsheets, and sell them on the dark web. Back then, they didn’t have any training about scams like this, so they didn’t think twice about using flash drives.
There is no way to know what kind of technology these hackers are using now to do the same thing to us. This isn’t what I was looking for, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army does have a group that deals with cyberattacks and hacking. A lot of them have been charged because they hacked into the computers of credit reporting agency Equifax and stole people’s personal information and Equifax’s valuable trade secrets.
More information can be found here: Chinese PLA charged with hacking Equifax.
Victor Tannenberg, who hacks cars, is one of the people mentioned in the story. Israelis distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) on “NOW bank,” which could be either WellsFargo from the 2012 Iranian attack or JPMorgan Chase from the 2014 DDoS attacks, WannaCry ransomware, which spreads from P.C. to P.C. across networks, and the Russian in the story.
At work, we have a lot of training about cybersecurity risks and threats. Still, I didn’t know how significant the damage could be to businesses, the economy, and even whole countries. Hackers and cybercriminals could be one step ahead of the game as they have always been. They could also be their next target, including you and me. Corporations and governments aren’t the only ones who this has hurt. In the past, hackers have regularly found a way to target people like us. I think it’s a good idea for people to think about the personal information they post online and be wary of anyone who asks for any sensitive information, no matter how urgent the situation might sound. The same rules still apply:
- Use strong passwords and change them often.
- Do not use the same password for more than one account.
- Allow only a small amount of your personal information to be shared.
- Before you click, think.
Take care where you put your personally identifiable information (PII), such as your full name, email address, physical home address, date of birth, marital status, telephone, and mobile numbers, social security numbers, names of family members, employment details, health records, and education. It would be best to be careful about where you store your PII. There’s no harm in always being on the lookout for these scammers, even though you think they don’t want anything from you.