The Cukoo's Egg
posted 2/14/2012 5:05:22 PM
He was out there, alone, silent, anonymous, persistent, and apparently successful...but why? What's he after? What's he already learned? And what's he doing with this information?
So by now you should know the heated argument of information and its freedom with the internet. Most people know the one extreme with government suppressing information to maintain control over a society. I wonder how many of you know the opposite end of the spectrum which has potential to be just as scary (and the threat on this end potentially comes from someone not ready to follow any form of ethics). Let us explore that shall we?
Espionage is the act of obtaining information that is to be maintained secret for any reason. The most common example comes from the top level where it happens between nations that have tensions between each other and they try to learn the secrets each side has discovered. It not only happens internationally/politically, but also as a means of private businesses.
Take Cheat Happens as the ever popular example. Caliber makes excellent trainers that many users want. The cost of using CHU's trainers is not what other users are willing to shell out. Many users take notice of this and begin to probe the secrets of what makes the trainers tick and eventually find out how to make it themselves. This wouldn't fall under espionage if CHU's trainers were Open Sourced but they are not. Some people could choose to sell their version ripped from CHU for much less stealing profit. Others want to be the Robin Hood and make it freeware or FOSS. Whatever the reason, it's active espionage in the form of getting their hands on as many trainers as possible not for using them to cheat at games.
Espionage doesn't stop there. It happens to many people as well. Many hackers recently have dug through databases to discover information many users would have rather kept private (such as credit card numbers and passwords). It serves to fill the gap between people with grudges to making some kind of statement by aggressive means.
A large chunk of people supporting the freedom of information probably do not know that information has a completely different definition in the realm of computer science. Most people know its general definition of "knowledge" which is indeed free (as provided by most local libraries). In computer science though it means the logical organization of data into a file. This means that if you store your password or credit card information in plaintext, it is information and subject to being distributed because information is free.
Of course the average person would rather not have this happen. This leads to the question that many have simply refused to answer: Where do we draw the line? Many people demand privacy but in return often lose safety in value. When people are granted piracy, they alone become responsible for the management of their computer and network security and when users are illiterate as to how to do this, the results can be disastrous (from scareware to randsomware...both of which you do not want).
Why? Because freedom is always abused whether it be by public or by a rogue group wanting to do whatever they please. Scareware? It's an elaborate scheme to generate fear to force users to enter credit card information to "purchase" software to remove the alleged infections. Once entered they have your information and may use or distributed it as they please. Even worse yet, those few precious moments of root access they have to infest your computer they lay other different kinds of eggs inside your system that hatch into connections to different botnets that send out the same spam by e-mail by the billions on a daily bases (don't believe me? then tell me where all that spam folder in your e-mail comes from). Most people don't know their computer is part of a botnet because a good virus masks itself to be invisible to everything.
The worst part of it all? With the rise of so many shields to protect net neutrality. There really is no infrastructure to chase these people down except for some open source style of vigilantism that cannot really do anything once they reach a point where they cannot force legislation on nations they don't belong too. At best they can just counter by stealing their information and fighting fire with fire.
And that is where we stand. A massive digital world with alliances and wars are fought with sides doing what they can to take as many resources for themselves and others defending themselves and possibly taking out these digital enemies. It's rather fascinating to see an entirely different society online than in person even though they are comprised of the same people.
Most people don't ask the most important question: "What do people want with this information?" The answer is simple: To get ahead. Even if they don't need/want the information they take from you, they can just sell it for the right price (this is what a lot of people did in the Cold War both on the US and the Soviet side).
So where do you stand in terms of privacy and security? These two concepts have traditionally been known to not mix very well.