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Shelf Life

We have some catching up to do on cyber-security

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Feb 20, 2015
Shelf Life

We have some catching up to do on cyber-security

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Feb 20, 2015

If you want to know about the crimes of the past, read Agatha Christie. If you want to know about the crimes of the future, read Marc Goodman.

Goodman started his career as a Los Angeles police officer, and first forayed into the tech crime beat in a fairly unremarkable way.

“When I was working as a detective one day my lieutenant screamed my name across the detective squad room, ‘Goodman, get over here!’. I thought I was in trouble, I said, ‘Yeah, boss. What’s up?’ He said, ‘I have a question for you. Do you know how to spell check in WordPerfect?’ And I said, ‘Sure. Shift F2.’ He had a big grin on his face and said ‘I knew you were my guy, you’re my technogeek. I’ve got a case for you.’ Back in the mid-’90s the fact that I could spell check put me at the techno-elite of police officers.”

Goodman says when he joined the force he had seven months of training in handwriting and was once reprimanded for typing a report on an electric typewriters. He says his experiences are representative of just how far law enforcement is behind cyber criminals.

“There’s Moore’s Law and there are Moore’s Outlaws,” he says. Goodman has worked for Interpol, the FBI, even the U.S. Secret Service, and through his new book “Future Crimes
he’s feverishly trying to sound the alarm that we will soon be more vulnerable than we have ever been. Why?

“Our cell phones and computers are now online,” Goodman says. “But in the future it’s going to be our cars, airplanes, pacemakers, pets, elevators, prisons. Every physical object is going online because of something called ‘the Internet of things.’”

Somewhere between 50 and 200 billion things will be connected soon, he says, and that will take the new crime paradigm to a terrifying level.

“Crime used to be a one-on-one affair. Go out and buy a gun or a knife if you’re a criminal, rob one person at a time,” Goodman says. “Now through technology it becomes possible for one person to reach out and touch over 100 million people.”

Goodman believes we need a literal army to fight this new threat.

“We have recruitment stations for the army and police and we have so many people working in high tech,” Goodman says. “We need people with those skills to be brought in, put through background checks and trained. We had the Civilian Defense Corp. to protect neighborhoods from the Germans during World War II and the Russians during the Cold War. We have the Red Cross to help in disasters. There is no one that can step in for a cyber-crisis.”

Here are some of the things Goodman told us that made our eyes bulge or just flat-out tear up.

  • Every 10 minutes these days mankind creates as much information as the first 10,000 generations of human beings did.
  • Internet protocol right now allows for 4.5 billion devices to be connected at one time. Soon internet protocol will be enlarged to allow 78 octillion. Yeah, that’s a real number. It’s 78 billion billion billion. That means every grain of sand on the planet could have a trillion IP addresses.
  • You can buy a 6 terabyte hard drive on Amazon for less than $300 and store all of the music ever recorded anywhere in the world.
  • Google founder Eric Schmidt has predicted that by 2020 every person on the planet will be online. He’s probably not wrong because 92 percent of American toddlers already had a digital presence in 2010.
  • Every minute in 2014 we sent about 204 million emails, ran 2 million Google searches, tweeted 100,000 times, downloaded 47,000 apps from the Apple app store, ans uploaded 48 hours of new video to YouTube
  • Up to 200,000 new viruses are created each day, and the average anti-virus software stops just 5 percent of malware. Nevertheless, global spending on security software is forecast to skyrocket to $94 billion by 2017.
  • The web you know and love is only a small percentage of what’s out there. The “dark web” or “deep web” is about 500 times larger, with content protected by passwords, paywalls or special software. This is where a lot of the bad stuff hides.  
  • The United Nations estimates that transnational organized crime rakes in more than $2 trillion a year in profits. That accounts for 15-20% of global GDP.
  • Nearly 20 percent of Americans and EU citizens have been victims of identity theft.
  • The only thing keeping your computer from being hacked is choice. Around 75 percent of computers can be hacked in minutes. Viruses cost consumers $2.3 billion per year — that’s just to people who know they’ve been attacked.
  • The average hacker is now 35-years-old and 80 percent of them are working with an organization. Many of these groups are sophisticated operations run like businesses, with CEOs, SEO, quality control, even marketing and human resource departments. In fact, a company called Innovative Marketing Solutions operated out of an office in Kiev complete with reception, a help desk and sales representatives who met with clients and issued receipts. The shell company sold $500,000,000 worth of anti-virus software in three years, and that was just its side business. The software actually installed viruses that stole personal information that was then sold.
  • The Poneman Institute estimates it costs a company $188 for every customer record stolen, from stopping the leak, bringing in outside consultants, replacing credit cards, lawsuits, etc. About 90 percent of small businesses that have customer information stolen go out of business within three years of an attack.
  • In 2011, Facebook’s own security department shockingly admitted that over 600,000 accounts were compromised every day. The company has been working to improve security measures since.
  • Medical identity theft — false claims with stolen IDs — costs the U.S. healthcare system $5.6 billion annually.
  • In the U.S., 200,000 children are trafficked for sex each year. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that trafficking generates upwards of $32 billion a year.

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