Control the Code, Control the World

I’ve just finished reading the third chapter of Future Crimes by Marc Goodman titled Moore’s Outlaws.  It essentially outlines the exponential growth of technology and the exponential risk that comes along with it.  It talks about how crime of scale is starting to become mainstream and accessible to anyone.  Here’s a bit of insight based on the reading that I think it important to take note of.

We’ve heard a lot of futurists talk about Moore’s Law, the Singularity, and the like, but many only put it in the context of the benefits to society.  Goodman takes a quick look at the downsides that come with the exponential growth we are experiencing in the 21st century.  Once again he notes “We find ourselves increasingly connected, dependent, and vulnerable”.

Hacking at Scale

“In the end, financial analysts estimated that the repair bill for the Sony PlayStation hacking incident cost the company in excess of $1 billion from lost business, outside consultants, and various lawsuits” – Goodman “Future Crimes”

Here’s a few things to keep in mind with the PlayStation hack:

  1. The outage lasted 23 days.
  2. It completely changed the conversation about keeping your credit card information online, especially with gaming systems/subscriptions.
  3. No one knows exactly who did it.  Many claim Anonymous was behind it, but Anonymous scholar Gabriella Coleman says Anonymous only hacked/defaced Sony’s websites and don’t claim to do the actual network attack.

Vulnerabilities at Scale

“For example, the 1969 Apollo 11 Guidance Computer that safely guided astronauts the 356,000 kilometers from earth to the moon and back only contained 145,000 lines of code (LOC)…. was roughly thirty-five hundred times more complex than the guidance system that brought Apollo 11 to the moon and back (500 million LOC).”

Here’s a few things to keep in mind with complicated websites:

  1. “According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, commercial software typically has twenty to thirty bugs for every thousand lines of code.” (10 million – 15 million bugs for – Goodman
  2. More code = more vulnerabilities = more downtime during attacks = more manpower required = more dollars spent.
  3. (500MM LOC) will seem like a relic in time 10 years from now.
  4. 3.5 million cyber security jobs will be left unfilled by 2021.
  5. We are not prepared to secure the complex future, but progress stops for no one.
  6. This isn’t just about money, cyber attacks contributed to the 2003 Northeast blackout and the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

It’s difficult to look at this information optimistically.  It’s also difficult to solve the problem with the tools and skilled labor we have.  But if we don’t act quickly, criminals will continue to weaponize the critical infrastructure in our society we rely upon and the conveniences we have become depended upon in our daily lives.  The first step is to be informed, the second step is to act.



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