Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cybercalypse Now! Cybercrime and Punishment

For years, the main threat to our safety was crime – the old fashioned one. There were burglars, robbers and other villains. But our main threat nowadays is of the sneaky variety – yes, I am referring to cybercrime.

My main fear is not that I will be robbed in the streets by some crazed junkie, but that my identity is stolen by person(s) unknown. The Four Horsemen of the Cybercalypse ride their Trojan horses through cyberspace – wracking havoc with our online data. Once they get their grubby hands on our bank account or SSN, we are toast. Forget about finding out who stole, traded and used your data – cyber crooks operate in cybergangs that could have given Al Capone a run for his money. The chance of them getting nabbed by law enforcement is very slim, and even fewer are ever convicted and thrown in the brick.

Personally, I think that only one punishment fits the crime – cyber crooks should go non-tech for the rest of their lives. Let them get water from a well, read books (remember those?) by candlelight, and walk or ride a bicycle to go shopping. They cannot use credit cards of course, so they have to queue in the nearest bank to get money from the bank clerk. The downside is that I don’t know if there are any places left on earth that are non-tech…may be Eastern Island or Rottumeroog?

To help them out, I composed a list of terms that they can refer to since they wouldn’t have access to Wikipedia or Google to help them out.

Dear evillenus,

Please memorize the following term and erase all previous definitions from your memory (the one in your brain, inside your skull, you know, that boney part between your ears)

Spam = SPAM®, a tinned hopped pork and ham concoction that only Brits like. Since its first introduction in 1937, it has been a firm favorite in Albion, which could explain the teeth. Still, you have to eat, so click here for recipes.

Cookies = biscuits, the ones you munch or crumble. The word cookie is derived from the Dutch word koekje, which means "small cake", which shows you that the Dutch settlers lived the good life when they came to the New World - way before Internet. Fortune cookies are allowed, as long as text is handwritten preferably with a quill.

Mouse = a little rodent from the Muridae family. It is the favorite food/toy of cats (from the Felidae family). You are allowed to 1) keep them as pets 2) eat them (no recipes available) 3) feed them to your cat.

Bug = insect that can come in many forms. To help you identify which one bit you or ate your food, here is a list. Enjoy!

Cache = a hiding place that you can use for storing provisions or valuables (from the French “to hide”). Since you have to walk or ride your bicycle to the market for food (remember, no car!), I advise you to maintain a cache of food in case of emergencies (e.g., your mice eating your provisions).

Shopping basket/trolley/cart = a metal or plastic basket with/without wheels that you push or carry to schlep groceries to the check out. Since you cannot shop in a supermarket, you might ask a homeless person near you for a demonstration on alternative uses.

The Web = a spider or cobweb. Quite likely, you will have multiple ones in your dwelling. To give you idea what you are up against, check out this YouTube video. And when you are cleaning the cobwebs, you might remember the famous quote from Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”.

Mail = letters, bills, etc. that a post office person drops off at your dwelling. It works both ways; you yourself can send mail by writing a letter, stuffing it in an envelope, putting a stamp on it and dropping it in a mailbox. It does require that you to know the physical addresses of hacker212 or lovemebigboy though.

Home = your dwelling, which in your case is hopefully a hut in the middle of nowhere.

Domain = a piece of land or real estate. In your case, your dwelling is located on a domain (Guantanamo Bay, maybe?)

Keyboard = the black and white keys on your piano. You are also allowed to play a harpsichord if you like.

Bit = a mall morsel. To help you with your withdrawal symptoms from hi-tech, you might consider biting on the bit of a pipe (the part of a pipe stem that you hold in your mouth)

Virus = a sub-microscopic infectious agent that is unable to grow or reproduce outside a host cell. To fight a virus infection, you might consider adding paracetamol (eg Panadol) or ibuprofen (eg Nurofen) to your cache.

Worm = an invertebrate animal that have a long, soft body and no legs whatsoever. They are part of the Platyhelminthethe family, which is the academic way of saying “flatworm”.

Trojan = a citizen of Troy, such as Hector and Paris (the guy, not the city)

Trojan horse = a sneaky ploy to hatched by Odysseus to get into Troy. If you are bored, you can build one following these instructions.

Microsoft = the unfortunate side effect of steroid use (males only)

I already found my first candidate – the cyber crook known as "the Analyzer”, who was arrested in Canada in September 2008 for hacking into a Canadian credit and debit card issuer and siphoning cash out of the compromised accounts. According to an affidavit, U.S. authorities also linked him to several data breach incidents at financial institutions across the country, resulting in losses of 10 million dollars.