Anatomy of computer crime

Note: Followup to this entry at

So apparently, Macintosh users are now the targets of Eastern European organized crime.

First, a bit of backstory. Last December, I wrote an article about how I had done a Google search for my name and uncovered a massive hacking attack against a Web hosting company called iPowerWeb. iPower, a company in Phoenix, Arizona, has trouble securing their Web servers, and Russian organized crime can hack any Web site hosted by iPower completely at will.

That was last December. Today, as I write this, iPower still has not fixed their server security; each day, a whole crop of new Web sites hosted by iPower is hacked, and the hackers plant redirectors on the site that are designed to snare unwary visitors and send them to servers in Eastern Europe that attempt to infect users with computer viruses.

For the past couple of months, I have been emailing iPower every day with new lists of hacked Web sites they’re hosting. Each day, I bug them to fix their computer security. Each day, they remove the virus redirectors that I tell them about, but they do not fix their server security; so the next day, more of their Web sites are hacked. Some poor sots who host Web sites with iPower have had their sites hacked over and over again.

In the past 48 hours, the nature of the hacks has changed. Between December and now, the hacks were all the same; the hackers would penetrate an iPower Web site, create a directory on the site named /her, create a directory on the site named /bad, and then create a directory with a one or two digit number as a name. The redirector pages would go in the numered directory. This made spotting hacked iPower Web sites trivially easy.

About two days ago, the hackers began changing the naming scheme of the directory. This led me on a path to discovering an entire network of compomised Web sites, feeding into an elaborate underground network of computers used to distribute computer viruses.

And they’re distributing Mac viruses now, too.

If this stuff interests you, read on! (We're about to get technical here.)