Bits of Books - Books by Title

Future Crimes

Everything Is Connected

Matt Goodman

Kevin Poulson ingenious 1990 hack allowed him to commandeer all the phone lines of a LA radio station to ensure that he would be the 102nd caller, thereby securing the top prize of a $60,000 Porsche.

The power of exponential - effectively C21 will not be 100 years of progress; by standards of the past it will be 10000 years of progress.

Google Now app monitors your diary and your contacts and reminds you of appointments, tells you of delays en route and suggests alternatives. As long as your phone GPS is permanently activated. Except, if your phone is at the same location as a female's all night, when it's usually at the same place as your wife's ....

Sign up to OKCupid and all your data is transmitted to up to 50 data brokers in real time. You think you're filling out a confidential profile but you are actually giving away a lot of personal information that you would never share with any marketing company.

Even when you have "nothing to hide" you are judged - your Facebook contact list can affect your credit score, if some of them are credit deadbeats.

Anything you post online (in US) is regarded as the property of the program you used; it is not in any way "private" speech.

The word "Facebook" appeared in one-third of all divorce applications in 2011.

Code is greater than Law. When Google or Facebook etc change their ToS, it is as if a new law has been passed. Except you weren't asked whether you agreed.

When 10 terrorists besieged Mumbai hotel in 2008, they were in constant smartphone contact with leaders in Pakistan. Who were monitoring social media in real time. So when a by-stander tweeted a pic of police commandos rappelling down onto the roof, the handlers directed the terrorists to a stairway where they could ambush the police. When the BBC mentioned that the terrorists were known to be in rooms 360 and 361, they were immediately told to relocate.

Assume (with very high likelihood) that your personal data will fall into the hands of criminals, leaking from businesses and commercial organizations storing it.

For just a few hundred dollars you can buy a femtocell, a wireless network extender designed to help people in area with poor signals. A crim can set up device outside a business; the company phones will log onto that tower as it has a stronger signal, and all the company calls can be intercepted.

Mobile Spy will turn any phone into a bugging device, allowing ambient recording of surroundings, even when not on a call. And includes a stealth camera that can be remotely activated to take and store photos.

US soldiers took pics of themselves in front of newly arrived Apache helicopters. Didn't realize their phones provided geolocation on the pics. Terrorists simply programmed their mortars with the co-ordinates and destroyed four of the brand new aircraft.

We no longer live our lives directly - so much is now mediated through the screens we view. And the data on those screens is personalised according to Google or Facebook's algorithms, so you have no way of knowing how accurate or comprehensive it is.

In United Arab Republic, govt has blocked all access to any .il (Israel) domain.

According to Facebook's own data, 11% of its accounts are fake. Since it has 1.3 billion users, that means 140 million Facebook 'users' don't exist. That would be the tenth largest country in the world.

Doctors and nurses trust data on their screens, often without thinking. Hacker could change your data - erase the 'allergic to penicillin' entry, or change your blood type - to assassinate you from afar.

Apps such as SpoofCard and SpoofTel make it easy to display a different number for outgoing calls. Routinely used by fraudsters posing as your bank.

Thieves use GPS jammers to suppress signal on stolen cars. GPS spoofers send fake data - pretend traffic jam so that everyone gets diverted to side roads for massive jam there.


AT A recent cyber-security summit in Silicon Valley, Barack Obama was asked by an interviewer from Re/code, a technology blog, to give his view of the thorny issue of cyber-snooping by governments. Mr Obama drew on a sporting analogy: “This is more like basketball than [American] football,” he said, “…there’s no clear line between offence and defence.”

In the corporate world digital defences are being overwhelmed alarmingly often. A string of recent high-profile intrusions by hackers, ranging from the devastating cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment to the news this week that crafty hackers had pilfered large sums of money from banks in Russia and elsewhere, have propelled cyber-security to the top of boardroom agendas. Marc Goodman’s book was printed before these attacks took place. But it contains plenty of other episodes that highlight how hacking has evolved into a multinational endeavour run by criminal masterminds and spooks.

Mr Goodman, who worked with both Interpol and the FBI before striking out on his own as an expert on digital criminality, worries that the worst is yet to come. As technology rapidly advances, many more things, from pacemakers to cars and power stations, are being connected to the internet and governed by software that is vulnerable to crooks and terrorists.

No sooner is security beefed up than someone attempts to get around it. For instance, firms are experimenting with biometrics, or replacing passwords with things such as fingerprint or facial scans. But crooks are already looking for ways to pinch copies of fingerprints—which, unlike passwords, cannot be changed easily—and to fool facial-recognition systems.

Innovations that generate exponential benefits are also making society more vulnerable. One example is the spread of sophisticated software based on complex algorithms. Such software has enabled companies to automate everything from stock-trading to credit-checking, slashing costs and prices. But digital Al Capones love algorithms too. They use them to target large numbers of people with automated “ransomware” attacks that lock them out of their computers and force them to pay a fee to get hold of their data again.

So how can companies better protect themselves in future? Mr Goodman points out that much software code is being shipped with flaws or “bugs” in it that are “patched” over time. But hackers can exploit these bugs before they are remedied. One solution, he thinks, is to stiffen liability laws so software companies that ship bug-ridden code can be sued more easily. This is worth debating, but a regime that was too draconian would force firms out of business and stifle innovation.

In spite of the many scary scenarios in this excellent and timely book, Mr Goodman is no neo-Luddite. He thinks innovations could ultimately lead to self-healing computer networks that detect hackers and automatically make repairs to shut them out. He rightly urges the private and public sectors to work more closely together, “crowdsourcing” ideas and know-how.

Striking the right balance between ensuring security and satisfying society’s desire for shiny new gadgets and permanent connectivity will not be easy. As people become more dependent on technology, the risks will rise. The best time to start tackling future crimes is now.

More books on Computers

More books on Crime

Books by Title

Books by Author

Books by Topic

Bits of Books To Impress