The FBI used spyware to track a schoolchild who was making bomb threats against his school.
Using an anonymous MySpace profile, threats were made by a student against Timberline High School in the US. The attacker made threats against the school and doled out a denial of service attack.
Cunning FBI agents hooked the perp by getting him to install spyware on his PC. They used a CIPAV (computer and internet protocol address verifier). And it worked - 15-year-old Josh Glazebrook has since been up before the beak, admitted charges of making bomb threats.
A CIPAV is malware that can snaffle up personal details from a user's PC.
Crucially, the FBI could find out the registered user of the operating system, the registered company name and the current logged-in username of the PC involved in the threats. The CIPAV could also monitor Glazebrook's internet use.
The FBI could also glean the PC's IP address, as well as the MAC address of Glazebrook's ethernet cards. A CIPAV can grab a list of open TCP and UDP ports, as well as finding out what programs are running, the PC's OS, version and serial number, and the default internet browser and version.
The interesting aspect of this case - I'm getting there - is the fact that the FBI would have required a warrant to tap Glazebrook's phone. But installing malware doesn't seem to have posed the same problem.
Even those paid to uphold the law feel free to operate online with impunity, it seems.