The Freakonomics people asked a bunch of folk whether they thought there had been a sudden explosion of hacking in recent times. One of the respondents was Bruce Schneier, who bursts the very myth that the question attempts to bolster:
None of this is new. None of this is unprecedented. To a security professional, most of it isn’t even interesting. And while national intelligence organizations and some criminal groups are organized, hacker groups like Anonymous and LulzSec are much more informal. Despite the impression we get from movies, there is no organization. There’s no membership, there are no dues, there is no initiation. It’s just a bunch of guys. You too can join Anonymous—just hack something, and claim you’re a member. That’s probably what the members of Anonymous arrested in Turkey were: 32 people who just decided to use that name.
It’s not that things are getting worse; it’s that things were always this bad. To a lot of security professionals, the value of some of these groups is to graphically illustrate what we’ve been saying for years: organizations need to beef up their security against a wide variety of threats. But the recent news epidemic also illustrates how safe the Internet is. Because news articles are the only contact most of us have had with any of these attacks.
Unmasking one of the many faces of the modern moral panic… I note that the other four respondents all conceded that there has been an increase in hacking, and that – unlike Schneier – they all hold high positions in computer security businesses.
Futurismic fiction hits the ground running for the new year with “Roots” by Mark Ward.
Super-enhanced transhuman troubleshooters; augmented and virtual realities; griefers and grifters and ex-girlfriends… when Chris East sent this one over from the slush pile, I took a look at the first few paragraphs and was sucked inexorably right through to the end before I knew what hit me. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did – be sure to let us know in the comments box at the bottom!
by Mark Ward
The first Hitler was seen by a jogger chasing the morning light through the remains of San Francisco. He stood in the grassy clearing once known as Ghirardelli Square declaiming to an invisible audience.
The runner hesitated when she saw him, sneakers tapping time on a strip of sidewalk missed by the robot reclamation teams. He looked crazy but she did not know if he was the pervert or harmless kind.
The countdown in the corner of her vision went pink so she pushed off the kerb and out across the springy turf. She relaxed when she saw its shadow pointed toward the sun. It was only a shade. Good work too. The uniform draped well and even the toothbrush moustache looked the right side of ridiculous. She shot some footage then wiggled her fingers to file it to the news channels. Another Hitler popped into view before she dipped under the tree line.
Hitlers were rampant by the time she was leaning on her thighs on Pier 39, sucking in lungfuls of air and fighting the urge to puke.
A thick drift of them, their jerking salutes as choreographed as a chorus line, had formed around the Fountain of Light in Montgomery Park. Continue reading NEW FICTION: ROOTS by Mark Ward →
The latest instalment of Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect is part of the Superstruct project.
Still aboard his one-way ‘cruise’, future-Sven gets caught in between food shortages, cultured meat… and vegan griefers. Continue reading vMeat with a Soul →