/ how’s your cyber skills 😉 / are you at your computer? Special thanks to Annalee Newitz for her help with interpreting the bot-related data and to Kevin Ramsay for the sound editing.
They had access to portions of the national power grid, air-traffic-control systems and had hacked their way into a digital cache of unpublished telephone numbers at the White House. Unlike less-polished hackers, they often worked in stealth, and avoided bragging about their exploits. Some of the young men, says the FBI, were in the business of selling the credit reports, criminal records, and other data they pilfered from databases.
Their customers included private investigators, so-called information brokers and -- by way of middlemen -- the Sicilian Mafia.
All I ever really wanted was to work with computers." Cantrell certainly did work with computers -- both his own, and, surreptitiously, those of some of the largest companies in the world.
A decade earlier, Morris, bored with accounting work, left a $96,000 job at Price Waterhouse and enrolled in the FBI academy, at $24,500 a year.
These bots were programmed to engage the website’s users in online chats, getting them to subscribe to the website’s services.
Despite the fact that the bots were designed to only contact males, they didn’t always function as they should have.
He had been a tax consultant at Price Waterhouse, and despised the work.
"I was young and making the big bucks, but every morning I would think 'God, I don't want to go to work.' " Tall, square-jawed and mustachioed, Morris began working on white-collar crimes when he arrived at the Dallas FBI field office.
The story also shows that hacking's potential harm is far more ominous than theft of telephone credit-card numbers.