Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Ingenuity is something Filipinos will never run out of, even in this day of computers – but not always for the right reasons. Recall Ramores and De Guzman – infamous computer programming students who successfully generated the ILoveYou worm, travelling across the globe from downtown Manila to the British Parliament, Wall Street, even the impenetrable CIA, and spawning some $5.5 billion in 2000, in just one day. Apparently, Bill Gates and his team of brainiacs failed to anticipate the lethal ramifications of leaving the scripting engine system setting by default enabled in Microsoft. Nosebleed.

If you ask me, the genius is in the execution. It would not have multiplied in light speed if it weren’t for the fact that everyone just really wants some la la la love. CIA spies included.

With no cybercrime laws then, all charges of malicious mischief and Rep. Act No. 8484 (although mainly for credit card fraud) were dropped. Two months later, the e-commerce law was enacted. Too bad, nullum crimen sine lege. Some randomly googled blog says that De Guzman never admitted to releasing the bug intentionally but that it was hacked from his home computer.

Ah yes, hacking. Three days ago, four Filipinos (not the love virus architects) hit the newsstand as hackers perpetrating remote toll fraud in New York company AT&T. Toll fraud is basically the unauthorized use of one’s phone lines to make long distance calls and charged to the owner.

So back in Manila, the hackers secured access to the operating systems of AT&T clients, using them to call telephone numbers, transferring the revenues to the four suspects. Interestingly, no less than the FBI has been tracking the hacking team since 2009.

Why all the trouble? It seems that toll fraud is prevalent, cannot be completely averted, and causes damages of over $4 billion annually in the US alone. The scheme is quite simple: sell stolen calls. And being immensely lucrative, it is being used by organized crime, drug dealers, and terrorists! Reports say they hackers were working with the Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group allied with Al Qaeda, who were responsible for Bali bombings, and that the scheme already cost $2 million. Another unfortunate original.

Mary Rhauline dG. Lambino, Entry No. 1

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