Infamous Romanian eBay Hacker Arrested

April 18, 2008

Infamous eBay Hacker Vladut Arrested in Romania

An infamous Romanian hacker, who plagued online auction giant eBay for three years by hacking into customer and eBay staff accounts and then taunting eBay by posting customer identity information online at eBay, was arrested in Romania yesterday. Vlad Duiculescu, or Românul Vlad Constantin Duiculescu, 20, is accused by Romanian authorities of “illegally accessing email accounts of eBay users in 2005-2007.” According to a Romanian newspaper, Duiculescu also cost eBay an estimated $3 million, by creating phishing websites which appeared to be eBay but which were lookalikes generated to steal consumers’ credit card numbers and passwords.

What brought “Vladut,” as Duiculescu was known, down? Greed. Working in conjunction with Romanian authorities, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, eBay managed to contact Vladut and offered to buy his phishing/hacking software. Vladut promptly provided his real address to his potential buyer. On February 28, 2007, eBay filed an official complaint against Vladut, citing losses of almost $1 million. eBay has downplayed the actual dollar amount of the losses.

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Vladut first appeared on eBay’s German website in late 2006; by February and March 2007, he was posting on eBay boards using a “pink” identifier only used by eBay employees. In September 2007, names and addresses of eBay members were posted on eBay’s “Trust & Safety” discussion board and eBay was forced to close that area of the website for several hours. In Octber, eBay members who had criticized Vladut said that he’d blocked their eBay access and sent them e’mails to prove that he did it. Other eBayers felt that Vladut performed a public service in exposing eBay security holes.

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Both the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have repeatedly warned that eBay is a dangerous website to visit, due to many instances in which scripting, poorly written code and other website problems have left customers vulnerable to attack.

A Thursday evening press release from eBay stated in part: “Despite numerous efforts to defraud eBay users via accessing administrative accounts, Vladuz was unsuccessful in his attempts.” Would you shop on eBay, or do you think that the risks outweigh the potential rewards? Read our tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft and other Internet ills.

Copyright ©2008

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