Democracy & Cyberspace

Democracy & Cyberspace - Democracy, The Market, and...

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Life in cyberspace seems to be shaping up exactly like Thomas Jefferson would have wanted: founded on the primacy of individual liberty and a commitment to pluralism, diversity and community. —Mitch Kapor, founder of LOTUS (1993) If they were already in the dark side, they would probably not come here. —Andrew Robinson, trainer at Tiger Team, a free after-school program that teaches teens ethical hacking (2003) 1 Ethics Case: Who’s in Charge? Hacking and Cracking It is the year 2003, and computer hacking has taken new twists. Kevin Mitnick—once labeled “the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history” for stealing software and altering data at the University of Southern California, Nokia, and Sun Microsystems, among others—is starting a business that protects companies against computer attacks. This after five years in federal prison and three years probation, during which he was barred from using computers or the Internet. His expertise is needed. A computer security firm based in London estimates there were some 20,000 successful hacker incidents worldwide in January alone. Costs to business are estimated to be in the millions of dollars, although analysts have difficulty tracking losses, since most businesses would prefer not to make them public. One technology consultant is quoted as saying, “If people found out how astoundingly large this problem is, they’d be shocked.” During the spring, French and American authorities together investigated a hacker suspected of breaking into and defacing some 2,000 Web sites in France, Britain, Australia and the U.S. During the U.S. war against Iraq he concentrated on government offices and military sites, including the U.S. Navy, leaving messages in favor of the Palestinians or against U.S. military policy. The chief suspect: a 17-year-old French high school student who belongs to no political group and appears to be operating alone. Those who know him well say all he cares about is improving his technical skills. In a seemingly unrelated incident, more than a thousand computers around the world are hijacked and secretly loaded with software that directs them to pornographic Web sites and fliers soliciting porn-customers to thousands more computers. The program does no apparent harm to the computers, and is downloaded so quickly that only the most sophisticated users are ever likely to know their machines have been hijacked. By creating a ring of high-speed computers, the hackers are able to send porn from just one machine at a time, making it particularly difficult to trace. Whoever is behind the scheme—some say it’s the Russian mafia—is making money on every customer who signs up for sexually explicit materials and is probably capable of skimming credit card numbers. 1
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This note was uploaded on 03/29/2011 for the course CIS 0835 taught by Professor Forman during the Spring '11 term at Temple.

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Democracy & Cyberspace - Democracy, The Market, and...

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