Blackmail latest scam for hackers

Friday, 14 November 2003, 12:17 PM EST

As more homes connect to faster delivery systems, their computers are becoming vulnerable to hackers and virus writers who can turn them into "zombie" machines, ready to carry out any malevolent command.

Favorite targets for the extortionists -- many thought to come from Eastern Europe -- have been casinos and retailers.

"At the end of the day, this is old-fashioned protection racket, just using high-tech," a spokeswoman for Britain's Hi-Tech Crime Unit said.

On Wednesday, British cybercrime cops made a plea to companies to report attacks against their Internet businesses after a recent string of incidents with the blackmailing trademark.

Police have seen an increase in the number of distributed denial-of-service attacks targeting online businesses.

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