Extortion for dummies

Pay attention all you would-be extortion artists out there! It’s not as easy as you think to blackmail a company over the network. You should learn from the example of Myron Tereshchuk, who pled guilty last week in Maryland to charges of attempted extortion. Mr. T apparently harbored a grudge against MicroPatent, a competing patent company in Connecticut. He used unsecured Wi-fi networks to break into MicroPatent’s computer systems and to send messages demanding $17 million or he would disclose their trade secrets.

Though he went to some lengths to make himself untraceable technically, past altercations between Tereshchuk and the company made him the prime suspect from the start, according to court records. The clearest sign came when he issued the seventeen million dollar extortion demand, and instructed the company to “make the check payable to Myron Tereshchuk.”

I don’t care what tested better – I’m calling it ‘War on Terror’

Last week, reporters were all abuzz about the latest dramatic shift in Washington. Not a change in policy, but a change in terminology. Administration officials stopped using the term “war on terror”, instead calling it the “global struggle against violent extremism”. Sure it doesn’t quite roll of the tongue as easily – Rumsfeld himself stumbled over the phrase once or twice. But at least it’s better than declaring war against a tactic.

Pundits were all excited about the change. The Daily Show reported from Times Square on celebrations of victory against the term “war on terror”. But in a dramatic reversal, President Bush returned to the phrase “war on terror” in a speech on Wednesday, using the term 5 times. Not once did he refer to the “global struggle against violent extremism”.

Maybe it was too much of a tongue-twister for someone who can’t even say “nuclear”.