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article imageComputer hackers steal Carson City funds

By Brandigal (Donna)     Jun 1, 2007 in Crime
Cyber-thieves make off with $45,000 after shifting nearly $450,000 from the city's coffers.
Last week, cyber thieves were able to steal $450,000 from the Carson City general fund in California.
Karen Avilla, treasurer for the city, had her laptop commuter hacked. Every time she logged onto her city provided laptop someone was recording every single stroke she made on it.
It was done with a spyware program. They were able to get bank passwords which enabled them to wire $90,000 to a "Deado Smith" in North Carolina. After getting away with that, they decided the very next day to go for a bigger amount. They wired $358,500 from the city's bank account to a company called Broadbase Financial using National City Bank in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The theft was discovered by a deputy and Avilla in time to freeze the funds. She noticed a problem when she was not able to log into the city's bank account. She thought she was mistyping the password. So on May 22, the bank gave her a new password, that the thieves were able to get as soon as she typed it on the computer.
She said on May 24th, she and her deputy checked the bank balances which she does daily and found the $90,500 transfer to someone in Wilson, N.C. The bank was contacted about the transfer and it was then they discovered another transfer of $358,000 the same day. They were able to get all but $45,000 back after calling the police and the bank and having the accounts frozen. The $45,000 is being tracked by the authorities and the Secret Service does know how has it.
A computer forensics team at the city's bank looked at the hard drives from her laptop computer and identified the likely entry point for the thefts as a Trojan horse virus that had been placed on the computer.
She is not sure how her computer was targeted or how the trojan was placed on her computer. She is doubtful it had the latest in security software patches on it.
She said she is angry now and is now seeking legislation to address the problem. "There's got to be more than one way to fight this," "They get us in so many ways. There's got to be a way for us to get them."
They are now checking to see if the system is vulnerable and what can be done to prevent this from happening again. The crime raised concerns about the security of municipal coffers, especially when wireless networks are used.
Computers need up to date security software especially if the computer is used to visit websites that contain spyware.
Experts say hackers also send mass e-mails which, if opened on vulnerable computers, can allow installation of "keystroke loggers."
Wireless networks allow hackers to break into them by what they call "drive-by hacking."
The Secret Service has been called in to help the L.A. Police with the investigation. No arrests have been made at this time. The thieves are still out there.
Other sources.
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