December 7, 2006
DENVER -- A Denver woman who didn't have adequate security on her home
computer paid the price.
Serry Winkler was visited by several officers with a search warrant who
demanded that she turn over her computer.
They were investigating a case of computer fraud. The woman's computer
was apparently infected by a bot or robot.
Someone else controlled it and caused all kinds of havoc.
"Four sheriffs from the Boulder County Sheriff's Office with flak
jackets and weapons drawn pounded on my door," said Winkler. "You're
just not prepared for it."
Investigators said someone hacked into Winkler's computer, stole her IP
address and used it with a stolen credit card to make fraudulent
purchases online. Police said they were trying to get to the bottom of
Winkler didn't have a firewall on her computer, which she said was too
"I've tried it, but it just slows it down so badly that I can't," she
Internet security expert Rick Orr of Symantec said that early on,
hacking activity was related to fame.
"What we've seen in the last few years is a transition from a motivation
of fame to a motivation of financial gain," said Orr.
He said thieves don't take holidays and when it comes to Internet
security, neither should you.
"Make sure your operating system and browser are fully patched," said
Orr. "Make sure you have an up-to-date Internet security solution and
monitor your credit card activity."
Winkler learned that the hard way.
"Hopefully a Christmas present will be a new computer this year. We're
working on it," said Winkler.
Investigators said they did not have weapons drawn when they entered
Winkler's apartment but they were armed and they were wearing
Detective Mike Wagner said what happened to Winkler was part of a
large-scale scam traced to a cyber crime ring in Russia.
A local sheriff in Colorado has no authority in Russia, so Boulder
County has forwarded the investigative information to postal inspectors.
Investigators said it is very difficult to prosecute crimes like this
across international lines.
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