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November 15, 2005
Phishing and Terrorism
John Robb, at his Global Guerillas site, today has one of his most fascinating posts yet, a comparison between terrorism networks and phishing networks.
He starts with an analysis of the phishing business from Chris Abad of Cloudmark, which found that its vertical integration is very loose. Instead it consists of specialists in various horizontal skills -- mass e-mail, templates, chat rooms, fences - which individual gangs then put together. Then he notes this is just the way the IED market is run in Iraq.
The result is intense competition at each stage of the supply chain, and incredibly low prices for phishers and terrorists. A terrorist can get an IED to blow up an American convoy for just $50.
The bazaar for such transactions is the key. It's virtual.
And yes, the skills cross over, as Robb notes with the example of Russian gangs attacking Chechen Web sites. But there must be a connection to the real world, which Robb labels the Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ), areas of lawlessness that can't be policed.
Robb identifies the Internet as among these zones, but that's not entirely true. It's the areas of lawlessness, where authority is questionable or non-existant, that we should focus on.
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