Lance was telling us about honeypots. Basically, a honey pot on a computer network serves the same purpose as a honeypot in your back garden, except that it attracts malicious Internet users, rather than bees and wasps.
The idea is to entice the hackers in, then study their behaviour in this controlled environment. Lance showed us the tools he used, and told us about some of the things his team has been able to find out about Internet crime.
He says that most Internet ‘hacking’ is basically opportunistic criminal behaviour. Marauding gangs look for vulnerable computers and then steal any information that money can be obtained for – that usually means credit card numbers or lists of email addresses.
The way they work is basically like a small-time criminal checking all the cars on a street to see if the doors are locked. Chances are that most of the doors have some sort of security, but every so often he will find a car that has been left unprotected. Internet criminals are able to use automated tools to let them attack hundreds or even thousands of computers per hour.
Spitzner is a great presenter, very animated. He mostly has a good sense of humour, but at one point he made fun of a guy (who wasn’t even at the talk) whose name was Gordon. If you ask me, that’s pretty big, coming from a guy called Lance.
Anyway, check out this video clip to see fifteen seconds of Lance in full flight, gesticulating wildly.