I happened to catch this article in the LA Times yesterday about how organized groups of hackers have been extorting money from online gambling sites. You know all that spyware people talk about? Well, it seems that various hackers in places like Eastern Europe infect a machine with the spyware and it sits in passive mode just listening for a command from the hacker. The hackers then go around to online gambling sites and demand money under the threat that they’ll turn hundreds or thousands of these zombie computers loose on them and bring their site down. The guy in the article runs an offshore bookie operation and they demanded $40,000 from him right before Thanksgiving weekend knowing that he would lose far more than that if they took his site down during such a busy period. And since most of these offshore sites are in places like Costa Rica and other small Caribbean nations, law enforcement has neither the expertise nor the desire to track them down.
For the geeks out there it’s an interesting read. Reminds me a bit of how they took down Kevin Mitnick. It should also be a lesson to all those little script kiddies out there that all you have to do is make one mistake in covering your tracks and someone with enough time and energy can track you down no matter where you are.