Tag Archives: Web Site

Crime And Punishment Up Close And Personal – Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913

The following is an edited and revised version of an article which was originally posted on October 18, 2010 – under the title “Crime And Punishment In The Internet Age”.

imageI’m a bit of an amateur historian, and I find accounts of daily life in bygone days fascinating – most particularly, aspects of crime and punishment. If you’re wondering why crime and punishment, it’s simply this – hidden in this type of accounting, one can generally find the unvarnished historical truth of social conditions of the time.

Naturally enough, I’m a big fan of  The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, web site – “A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”

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This is quite an amazing site, and each transcript lays out, by and large, not only the techniques employed to apprehend criminals (from the 1600’s through to the early 1900’s), but an accounting of the trial testimony, and the punishment handed down on conviction.

For a bit of perspective on the past, checkout the Old Bailey site using your own family name. You never know – you might just find a forgotten relative. Smile

Additional resources available:

London Lives, 1690-1800

What was it like to live in the first million person city in modern Western Europe? Crime, poverty, and illness; apprenticeship, work, politics and money; how people voted, lived and died; all this and more can be found in these documents.

Ordinary’s Accounts

Biographies of Executed Criminals, 1676-1772

The website includes the texts of all known surviving Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts. These richly detailed narratives of the lives and deaths of convicts executed at Tyburn were published between 1676 and 1772.

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For those of you who embrace the phrase “once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there forever”, you might be surprised to see, that in fact – once “it’s” been noted virtually anywhere, (even as far back as 17th century England), it’s out there forever.

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Filed under Opinion, Point of View, Recommended Web Sites

Crime And Punishment In The Internet Age

imageI’m a bit of an amateur historian, and I find accounts of daily life in bygone days fascinating – most particularly, aspects of crime and punishment. If you’re wondering why crime and punishment, it’s simply this – hidden in this type of accounting, one can generally find the unvarnished historical truth of social conditions of the time.

Naturally enough, I’m a big fan of  The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, web site – “A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”

This is quite an amazing site, and each transcript lays out, by and large, not only the techniques employed to apprehend criminals (from the 1600’s through to the early 1900’s), but an accounting of the trial testimony, and the punishment handed down on conviction.

I must admit, I find it difficult to accept, that it was not at all unusual to hang a “criminal” for theft of a spoon for example, according to the early trial transcripts.

I mentioned earlier, that I’m interested in the techniques used in those days to identify and apprehend criminals, and unavoidably, I often make comparisons between then, and now.

The Internet has had significant impact on both crime, and in a sense, punishment. Here’s what I mean. It’s really only a minor example of the use of the Internet to apprehend criminals but nevertheless, it struck a chord with me.

In a community just outside of Toronto over this past weekend, a Husky (typically Canadian, huh?), was stolen from outside a shop while the owner was buying groceries. Shortly after reporting the theft to the Police, the owner had his faithful companion back.

It seems, that when the Police dispatcher heard of the theft, she followed up by subsequently checking out the free online classifieds website, Kijiji, where she spotted the dog which had been offered for sale by the thieves – two brothers, age 14 and 17 . Following a “sting” operation the thieves were arrested. Very cool, I thought – minor, but powerful.

The punishment aspect is a little more complex, but it illustrates the power of the Internet, in this case Twitter, to satisfy the needs of those who seek immediate information.

The former commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in eastern Ontario, Col. Russell Williams, who was arrested late last year, following a series of horrendous crimes which included a number of murders, sexual assaults, and 80+ additional crimes, appeared this morning before a court to plead guilty to all charges.

In Canada, where criminal trials are not viewed as entertainment (rightfully so), and cameras are not allowed in courtrooms, a certain sense of urgency by the media to capture the immediacy of the proceedings, was met by employing Twitter to broadcast the details, as the following screen capture of Twitter conversations makes clear.

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(Courtesy of The Toronto Star)

Crime and punishment – the Internet has given new and expansive meaning to both.

For a bit of perspective on the past, checkout the Old Bailey site using your own family name. You never know – you might just find a forgotten relative.  Smile

For those of you who embrace the phrase “once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there forever”, you might be surprised to see, that in fact – once “it’s” been noted virtually anywhere, (even as far back as 17th century England), it’s out there forever.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under Interconnectivity, Opinion, Point of View, Recommended Web Sites, Social Blogging, social networking, Twitter

Patrick Swayze’s Death – An Opportunity For Hackers

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze, as most people are now aware, passed away several days ago, and it hasn’t taken long for cyber crooks to use this to advantage. Cybercriminals have jumped on this information, and are already exploiting this sad event.

Searching for news of Swayze’s death has multiple risks attached, including the risk of landing on an infected web site, which can lead to the downloading of “scareware” – fake security software.

Scareware is now recognized, by security experts, as the single most profitable money maker for cybercriminals, with thousands of users falling victim to scareware scams every day.

Cybercriminals are experts at exploiting our natural curiosity surrounding current events, and by focusing on this aspect of social engineering, they are increasingly creating opportunities designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, spam bots, and of course scareware, on our computers.

If an event is newsworthy, or it’s titillating in any way, you can be sure cybercriminals are exploiting it for their own advantage. A case in point: Serena Williams’ disgraceful behavior at the US Open, is currently been used by cybercriminals to trap victims into downloading rogueware.

I highly recommend that you watch the following YouTube video (courtesy of Sophos), which illustrates just how easy it is for the bad guys to trap unprepared computer users into downloading rogue software.

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Save yourself from being victimized by scareware, or other malware, and review the following actions you can take to protect your Internet connected computer system:

  • When surfing the web – Stop. Think. Click
  • Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.
  • Don’t open unknown email attachments
  • Don’t run programs of unknown origin
  • Disable hidden filename extensions
  • Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
  • Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
  • Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible
  • Disable scripting features in email programs
  • Make regular backups of critical data
  • Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
  • Turn off file and printer sharing on your computer.
  • Install a personal firewall on your computer.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.
  • Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.

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Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, scareware, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Makeuseof.com Web Site Stolen and Held for Ransom

When we think of kidnapping, extortion or blackmail, I think it’s safe to say, not many of us would consider that a popular Web Site could be kidnapped and held for ransom. But that’s what it appears has happened to Makeuseof.com, a very popular Web Site that specializes in Cool Websites, Cool Software and Internet Tips.

As a contributing writer for Makeuseof.com, I need access to the site in order to post articles. This morning however, when I attempted to login to the site, I found that Makeuseof had disappeared off the map. Gone, vanished; nowhere to be found. Web sites of course, can go down due to all sorts of technical issues.

But no technical issues proved to be connected with the disappearance of Makeuseof. After just a few minutes of investigating, I was taken aback when I learned that the Makeuseof domain had been stolen!

(Click pic for larger)

By following the threads on this, I discovered the site’s ownership/domain had been transferred from GoDaddy, to NameCheap, each of which is a web registrar company.

As Mark O’Neil, Managing and Publishing Editor of Makeuseof explains it “The problem was quickly traced to our GoDaddy account and we found out that it had been hacked by someone. The hacker had transferred ownership of the makeuseof.com domain from the GoDaddy account to another web registrar company called NameCheap.

Looking at the emails now we can say that it took him less then an hour to do that. The WHOIS entry is here and you can see that it is an Ali Ferank in Dubai. That’s our bad guy.

We can now confirm that the attacker, in fact, got the access details through Gmail and set up a forward filter to send incoming emails from GoDaddy to another Gmail account. Now the account had a strong approximate 15 character long password. How the hell did he manage to get in? Is it another Gmail Security Flaw?

The thief, Ali Ferank, an alias without doubt, has since contacted Makeuseof demanding $2,000 to restore ownership of Makeuseof.com to its rightful owners.

Mark has raised some penetrating questions with respect to the hasty compliance to the transfer of the domain by GoDaddy that need immediate and substantive answers. As Mark asks “Why did GoDaddy go so fast? In fact in the transfer confirmation email that we received from GoDaddy, it stated that we have 3 business days to cancel the transfer. However, when we logged into the account the domain was already moved, in less then an hour. Is it THAT EASY to snatch the domain from GoDaddy?

The position on this kidnapping and extortion plot, taken by Makeuseof, as expressed by Mark O’Neil is one of defiance “We are not going to pay. We are not going to give into these kinds of people. We work hard for our money and we are not going to hand it over to criminals looking for a quick payday. If we have a spare $2000 available, we would much rather give it to our hard working writers who deserve it”.

For updates on this continuing story, checkout Makeuseof’s temporary home on Blogspot. If this situation continues longer than is currently anticipated articles will be posted to this temporary site.

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Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Don't Get Hacked, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools