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[infowar.de] SERBIAN HACKERS FACE CRACKDOWN
SERBIAN HACKERS FACE CRACKDOWN
Serbia's emergence from international isolation is bad news for the
country's computer hackers
By Katarina Bugajski from Belgrade
Yugoslavia intends to adopt new laws to curb Internet hackers this
drastically curtailing what until recently was a thriving trade in web
While the country languished under Western sanctions, the theft of
packets, chocolate boxes, digital cameras and watches, T-shirts and
cigars went unpunished.
Forging credit card numbers, the hackers left a trail of devastation on
web, plundering companies throughout the US and Western Europe.
The motive was partly to avenge the West for isolating Yugoslavia and
for sheer entertainment. But the main incentive was financial gain.
"From a single box of Viagra I used to pay my rent," one Serbian web
said, with a smile. "Stealing Viagra was a real hit, as it arrived in
packages and with no customs."
The fall of Slobodan Milosevic last year wiped the smile off the
faces. Since his overthrow, Yugoslavia has rejoined the international
network, Interpol, while the new laws against web theft will curb the
The draft legislation lists eight computer-related crimes now liable for
prosecution. They include unauthorised use of computers and spreading
computer viruses. Those found guilty face up to 12 years in jail.
Yugoslavia's international isolation under Milosevic contributed to the
growth of this criminal trade. One experienced web thief explained how
system worked. "All you needed was a valid number from some credit
The hackers used programs found on certain illegal sites, which generate
forged credit card numbers. If some were spotted, others were not. "You
had to try another number. One would certainly succeed," he said.
When plundered sites refused to deliver any more books, videos, DVD
cassettes and CDs to Yugoslavia, the hackers responded by replacing
"Yugoslavia" with "Serbia" as the country of destination.
Another ploy was to request a delivery to an address in Serbia and write
"Hungary" or "Greece" as the country of destination. When the goods
those countries, their post offices redirected the mail to the address
During NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999, the hackers
created chaos on the net. Justifying their work as "patriotic theft",
stole exclusively from sites in the US and other states taking part in
After the fall of Milosevic, the hackers started covering up their
knowing the new authorities would soon re-establish ties with the West.
changed both the computers and the Internet service providers they had
Two months ago, the police duly announced that the international
expected Serbia to crack down on web thieves, after various companies
submitted details of theft and the credit card numbers they had used.
Few of the old web thieves are worried, as they covered their tracks
and the value of most individual thefts rarely exceeded 100 US dollars,
making court cases improbable.
More important than prosecuting hackers is legislation to limit their
for activity in the future. The authorities hope the new laws will
Katarina Bugajski is a regular IWPR contributor
BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 307, January 4, 2002
Dipl. Pol., wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil 0172 3196 006
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