Logic bombs

These are event dependent programs. This implies that these programs are created to do something only when a certain event (known as a trigger event) occurs. E.g. even some viruses may be termed logic bombs because they lie dormant all through the year and become active only on a particular date (like the Chernobyl virus).

Trojan attacks

A Trojan as this program is aptly called, is an unauthorized program which functions from inside what seems to be an authorized program, thereby concealing what it is actually doing.

There are many simple ways of installing a Trojan in someone’s computer. To cite and example, two friends Rahul and Mukesh (names changed), had a heated argument over one girl, Radha (name changed) whom they both liked. When the girl, asked to choose, chose Mukesh over Rahul, Rahul decided to get even. On the 14th of February, he sent Mukesh a spoofed e-card, which appeared to have come from Radha’s mail account. The e-card actually contained a Trojan. As soon as Mukesh opened the card, the Trojan was installed on his computer. Rahul now had complete control over Mukesh’s computer and proceeded to harass him thoroughly.

Internet time thefts

This connotes the usage by an unauthorized person of the Internet hours paid for by another person. In a case reported before the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000 Colonel Bajwa, a resident of New Delhi, asked a nearby net café owner to come and set up his Internet connection. For this purpose, the net café owner needed to know his username and password. After having set up the connection he went away with knowing the present username and password. He then sold this information to another net café. One week later Colonel Bajwa found that his Internet hours were almost over. Out of the 100 hours that he had bought, 94 hours had been used up within the span of that week. Surprised, he reported the incident to the Delhi police. The police could not believe that time could be stolen. They were not aware of the concept of time-theft at all. Colonel Bajwa’s report was rejected. He decided to approach The Times of India, New Delhi. They, in turn carried a report about the inadequacy of the New Delhi Police in handling cyber crimes. The Commissioner of Police, Delhi then took the case into his own hands and the police under his directions raided and arrested the net café owner under the charge of theft as defined by the Indian Penal Code. The net café owner spent several weeks locked up in Tihar jail before being granted bail.

Web jacking

This occurs when someone forcefully takes control of a website (by cracking the password and later changing it). The actual owner of the website does not have any more control over what appears on that website In a recent incident reported in the USA the owner of a hobby website for children received an e-mail informing her that a group of hackers had gained control over her website. They demanded a ransom of 1 million dollars from her. The owner, a schoolteacher, did not take the threat seriously. She felt that it was just a scare tactic and ignored the e-mail. It was three days later that she came to know, following many telephone calls from all over the country, that the hackers had web jacked her website. Subsequently, they had altered a portion of the website which was entitled ‘How to have fun with goldfish’. In all the places where it had been mentioned, they had replaced the word ‘goldfish’ with the word ‘piranhas’. Piranhas are tiny but extremely dangerous flesh-eating fish. Many children had visited the popular website and had believed what the contents of the website suggested. These unfortunate children followed the instructions, tried to play with piranhas, which they bought from pet shops, and were very seriously injured!

Theft of computer system

This type of offence involves the theft of a computer, some part(s) of a computer or a peripheral attached to the computer.

Physically damaging a computer system

This crime is committed by physically damaging a computer or its peripherals.

Unauthorized access to computer systems or networks

This activity is commonly referred to as hacking. The Indian law has however given a different connotation to the term hacking, so we will not use the term “unauthorized access” interchangeably with the term “hacking”.

Theft of information contained in electronic form

This includes information stored in computer hard disks, removable storage media etc.

Email bombing

Email bombing refers to sending a large number of emails to the victim resulting in the victim’s email account (in case of an individual) or mail servers (in case of a company or an email service provider) crashing. In one case, a foreigner who had been residing in Simla, India for almost thirty years wanted to avail of a scheme introduced by the Simla Housing Board to buy land at lower rates. When he made an application it was rejected on the grounds that the 169 schemes was available only for citizens of India. He decided to take his revenge. Consequently he sent thousands of mails to the Simla Housing Board and repeatedly kept sending e-mails till their servers crashed.

Data diddling

This kind of an attack involves altering raw data just before it is processed by a computer and then changing it back after the processing is completed. Electricity Boards in India have been victims to data diddling programs inserted when private parties were computerizing their systems.

Salami attacks

These attacks are used for the commission of financial crimes. The key here is to make the alteration so insignificant that in a single case it would go completely unnoticed. E.g. a bank employee inserts a program, into the bank’s servers, that deducts a small amount of money (say Rs. 5 a month) from the account of every customer. No account holder will probably notice this unauthorized debit, but the bank employee will make a sizable amount of money every month.

To cite an example, an employee of a bank in USA was dismissed from his job. Disgruntled at having been supposedly mistreated by his employers the man first introduced a logic bomb into the bank’s systems.

Logic bombs are programmes, which are activated on the occurrence of a particular predefined event. The logic bomb was programmed to take ten cents from all the accounts in the bank and put them into the account of the person whose name was alphabetically the last in the bank’s rosters. Then he went and opened an account in the name of Ziegler. The amount being withdrawn from each of the accounts in the bank was so insignificant that neither any of the account holders nor the bank officials noticed the fault.

It was brought to their notice when a person by the name of Zygler opened his account in that bank. He was surprised to find a sizable amount of money being transferred into his account every Saturday.

Denial of Service attack

This involves flooding a computer resource with more requests than it can handle. This causes the resource (e.g. a web server) to crash thereby denying authorized users the service offered by the resource. Another variation to a typical denial of service attack is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack wherein the perpetrators are many and are geographically widespread. It is very difficult to control such attacks. The attack is initiated by sending excessive demands to the victim’s computer(s), exceeding the limit that the victim’s servers can support and making the servers crash. Denial-of-service attacks have had an impressive history having, in the past, brought down websites like Amazon, CNN, Yahoo and eBay!.

Virus / worm attacks

Viruses are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by altering or deleting it. Worms, unlike viruses do not need the host to attach themselves to. They merely make functional copies of themselves and do this repeatedly till they eat up all the available space on a computer’s memory. 170 The VBS_LOVELETTER virus (better known as the Love Bug or the ILOVEYOU virus) was reportedly written by a Filipino undergraduate.

In May 2000, this deadly virus beat the Melissa virus hollow – it became the world’s most prevalent virus. It struck one in every five personal computers in the world. When the virus was brought under check the true magnitude of the losses was incomprehensible. Losses incurred during this virus attack were pegged at US $ 10 billion.

The original VBS_LOVELETTER utilized the addresses in Microsoft Outlook and emailed itself to those addresses. The e-mail, which was sent out, had “ILOVEYOU” in its subject line. The attachment file was named “LOVE-LETTER-FORYOU. TXT.vbs”. The subject line and those who had some knowledge of viruses, did not notice the tiny .vbs extension and believed the file to be a text file conquered people wary of opening e-mail attachments. The message in the e-mail was “kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me”.

Since the initial outbreak over thirty variants of the virus have been developed many of them following the original by just a few weeks. In addition, the Love Bug also uses the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for its propagation. It e-mails itself to users in the same channel as the infected user. Unlike the Melissa virus this virus does have a destructive effect. Whereas the Melissa, once installed, merely inserts some text into the affected documents at a particular instant during the day, VBS_LOVELETTER first selects certain files and then inserts its own code in lieu of the original data contained in the file. This way it creates ever-increasing versions of itself. Probably the world’s most famous worm was the Internet worm let loose on the Internet by Robert Morris sometime in 1988. The Internet was, then, still in its developing years and this worm, which affected thousands of computers, almost brought its development to a complete halt. It took a team of experts almost three days to get rid of the worm and in the meantime many of the computers had to be disconnected from the network.