The Month: Global snapshots

Record companies sue Yahoo! China; hackers steal list of Le Pen backers.

US: A hacker has been sentenced to a year's imprisonment by a Floridacourt. Justin A Perras was one of five co-defendants who pleaded guiltyto hacking into computers at information management and workflowprovider LexisNexis using Trojans and social engineering. The other fourwere sentenced in December 2006, and must pay the company $105,750 (£54,445) in compensation.

UK: An Edinburgh man has been awarded damages and legal costs of around£1,300 after receiving spam email. Gordon Dick tookOxfordshire-based Transcom Internet Services to the Scottish equivalentof a small claims court after receiving a single email. He alleged thecompany had used his email address illegally and contravened emailguidelines.

CHINA: A music industry body is beginning a slew of lawsuits againstYahoo! China over alleged music piracy. The International Federation ofthe Phonographic Industry (IFPI) claims Yahoo! China has madecopyrighted songs available for playing or download without permissionfrom the record companies. It is suing for a total of £366,000 indamages, involving 11 plaintiffs.

JAPAN: The National Police Agency's annual survey of cyber crimestatistics shows a sharp rise during 2006. Online crime has quadrupledsince 2000, with a total of 4,425 crimes being logged. Password thefthas become a major issue, doubling over the past year, while phishingscams have rocketed - only 34 incidents were reported in 2005, but thishad escalated to 417 in 2006.

FRANCE: A hacker has stolen sensitive data from a PC in the offices offar-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. According to the police, a list ofofficials who had agreed to back Le Pen has been accessed by a hacker,apparently with the help of a website specialising in breaking entrycodes. A National Front employee who used the computer that was hackedinto was detained but later released.

ITALY: Online searchers using common Italian terms are in for a shock,following reports that malware writers have "google bombed" searchengines. The gang behind Gromozon or LinkOptimizer is thought to haverigged Italian-language listings on several search engines using thetechnique, which is commonly used to exploit the link-related rankingmethodology of search engines.

NIGERIA: Scammers have launched a fake London Metropolitan Policewebsite, according to an anti-advance fee fraud organisation. UltrascanAdvanced Global Investigations claims the site is being used to scamvictims, who are referred there to buy so-called 'anti-terroristcertificates', which Nigerian 419 scammers say are needed to securepayments from abroad.

NEW ZEALAND: The government has passed the Unsolicited ElectronicMessages Act 2007, expected to come into force in six months' time. Itcovers text message and instant message spam, as well as email, andthreatens "significant penalties" for contravening spammers. Those whohave to send bulk emails will have to conform to standard rulesregarding information disclosure and opt-outs.

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