Webconsuls Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lisbeth Salander is Not Completely Fiction

I am been reading and enjoying the books by Stieg Larsson which started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth Salander is an amazing character and one of her traits is the ability to hack into computers. I certainly know that spyware exists and I try to protect myself with virus protection software. However I felt that Lisbeth capabilities were more fiction than fact.

This morning I read this article in the LA Times -FBI charges O.C. man in 'sextortion' case.

In summary a man was arrested for hacking into women's computers and finding compromising images that they had stored and threatened to send it to their families unless they paid.
According to the article

"The complaint was filed after a two-year investigation by the FBI's cyber squad and alleges that Mijangos, 31, used software to hack into computers and extract data he would later use to threaten his victims. The software gave him access to all the files, pictures and videos on an infected computer. It also allowed him to remotely access any web camera and microphone attached to an infected computer to watch and listen to unknowing victims, according to the criminal complaint."

While it is easy to say just don't keep compromising images on your computer, if the computer was in a bedroom this gave him access to what was going on.
Of course he had also had access to any financial or personal information stored on the computers.
My advice would be to use your virus and anti-spyware software, keep them up to date. Don't store images you would not show the world. I keep my financial records on a USB device which I unplug when I am not using it. None of this is perfect. You just have to be cautious.

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