Cyber crime: ‘snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg’
- October 9, 2017
- Posted by: Bishop Group
- Category: Blog
Computer crime has become the major threat to personal, corporate and state security. It seems we are forever playing catch-up with the cyber thieves, extortionists and manipulators.
And if our vulnerability to computer crime isn’t enough to scare the hell out of us, now there are civil suits that seem to present a choice between competition and free speech.
A recent case cited by Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar involves a dispute between the networking platform LinkedIn and a data-scraping company called HiQ.
HiQ scrapes data from LinkedIn and combines it with other information to produce new services, one of which, Skill Mapper, summarises workers’ skills.
LinkedIn has developed a competing product to Skill Mapper and has sent HiQ a cease-and-desist letter which threatens to invoke the 1986 U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act which makes it a Federal crime to gain unauthorised access to a computer connected to the internet. The UK has similar legislation in its Computer Misuse Act 1990.
Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe has joined the HiQ defence team because he thinks that LinkedIn should not be able to decide that publicly available data is their property. LinkedIn says that it maximises free speech because if you and I knew how available our data is to third parties we might not put it online.
The argument, once again, underlines the fact that in the age of the internet we are the product. However, the product seems to be as vulnerable as an orange on an unwatched street stall. Furthermore, a lack of adequate policing sometimes makes the internet look like a battle ground for opposing gangs in Prohibition-era Chicago.
Another Financial Times columnist Pilita Clark has noted that an internet gaming company, Winning Poker Network, was forced to abandon part of a tournament following a denial of service attack on its website. In an exchange of emails the attacker admitted: “Another site pays me to attack you.”
Clark quotes one expert saying that such a ttacks are launched every three minutes. She reports that Paul Hoare, a senior manager at the UK’s national cybercrime unit, says that the level of under-reporting of attacks suggests that what we know about represents “snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg.”
Perhaps when politicians finish gazing at their 20th century navels, they will address the issues of the 21st century.