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Hackers Fight Rivals, FBI to Control Hijacked-Computer Networks

Just after 3 a.m. on May 26, Karim Hijazi, the chief executive of Unveillance, a cyber-security firm, received an e-mail from hackers calling themselves LulzSec. They demanded he help them take over some networks of hijacked computers that other criminals were operating.

Unveillance had information on the so-called botnets because it was tracking them for potential corporate targets, Hijazi said in an interview. LulzSec had leverage to make Hijazi comply because it had hacked his Wilmington, Delaware-based company’s e-mail system and threatened to post captured confidential documents online if he didn’t help the group.

“If they did get a hold of these, they could potentially do way more damage than what’s already being done to these corporate targets,” said Hijazi, who rejected the demands. “The harm could be monumental.”

Botnets, which secretly control almost one-fifth of all home computers, have become a hotly contested terrain in the cyber-underground, according to Alex Cox, a security researcher at Reston, Virginia-based NetWitness Corp. Criminals who run them or rivals who want to are facing off against each other and against law enforcement and intelligence agencies that seek to render the rogue networks harmless or use them for their own devices, according to cyber-security experts. More...

06-12-2011 15:30