“Your computers are not safe”

By July 24, 2018technology

Marc Goodman is one of the top security experts in the world. Global strategist, FBI Futurologist, Interpol consultant, teacher of law and ethics at Singularity University and author of bestseller Future Crimes, Goodman sends chills down your back when he talks. His stories are full of suspense, more addictive than a thriller, but they are for real. When you realise that you’re not at the movies and that the facts are delivered by a man who knows his business, you start to worry: no computer is inviolable, pacemakers can be hacked, prison cells can be unlocked,  Facebook is hacked 600.000 times everyday. We are accostumed to reading news like this, but we don’t seem to grasp the implications. We don’t realise that cyber crimes are becoming more systemic. Everyday we upload waves of information on the internet, a continuos flow of data that can be used to our advantage, but against us, too. Internet is the source of infinite opportunities and infinite risks, that we need to become accostomed to.

Goodman’s research analyzes and discusses the effects of scientific and technological progress on crime in relation to the legal frameworks  on a global scale. This conversation was an eye opener.

Below you can read the transcript of the video:

GOODMAN: Just a few weeks ago we had a murderer arrested in Florida. He killed his roommate. He needed to hide the body, and he didn’t know what to do. And so he pushed on his iPhone to talk to Siri, and said, “Siri, where is a good place to hide a body?” And Siri replied, telling him you can throw it in a river, you can throw it in a dump, or you can throw it in a graveyard. The police looked at his computers and they looked at his phone. And when they did an examination, a forensic analysis of the phone, they could see all of his Siri queries in there. Every computer system can be hacked. There has never been built a computer system that could not be hacked. We need better systems, and I think a more interesting system would be a public health model. Using epidemiology—we talk about computer viruses. Let’s treat them as if they were a malady, isolate them. I will say that there are crimes that are very interesting. And for me, that’s what I focus on in my work, looking at how far advanced the criminals are. And so they’re working in cyber, of course. They’re working even in robotics. They’re working in artificial intelligence. They’re working in genetics, bioweapons, all of these different areas. In the old days, if somebody committed a crime at the Banca d’Italia in Rome, the police, when they came to investigate, they knew certain things. They knew the criminal was in Rome. They knew the bank was in Rome. You had the victim and the criminal in the same city. They knew that the Carabinieri or the Polizia di Stato would come in and investigate this. There would be DNA evidence that was left behind. There were systems in place. Now the same person can rob the Banca d’Italia from anywhere in Africa. They can rob it from Moscow. Our system is very challenged by this, because law is domestic. We have national laws. We have some international law, but the cybercrime problem is completely international. A criminal can visit five countries in 5 minutes, just by breaking into a computer in one country after the other. When the bank robber is in Rome and the police are in Rome, it’s easy. But if you have one police officer in Rome and your criminal is in Ukraine or Buenos Aires, they don’t have the budget to send policemen all over the world. There are organizations like that. In the European Union you have Europol in The Hague, which coordinates crime throughout Europe. And in the rest of the world there is Interpol, which coordinates not just in Europe but for the rest of the world. A hundred and ninety member countries coming together to focus on crime. But they have a limited budget. Interpol’s budget is only about $90 million a year. The New York City Police Department is $5 billion. We could create an online reserve police corps. These people would be invited in, they would be trained, we would do a full background check on them, they could have security clearances, and they could augment and help the police by volunteering their time. When we do research on the web, we are really just skimming the surface.

CRISTINA: Can you give us the numbers there?

G: Most people think when they search Google and look for something, they’re seeing the whole Internet. But underneath that is a Dark Web and a Deep Web, which is much larger. In fact, it is over 500 times larger. So the Surface Web is about 19 terabytes, and the Underweb or the Dark Web is 7500. And in that Dark Web you have lots of databases and other hidden information, but that’s where organized crime works. If you look at what we do in security— take the airport for example. After 9/11, what did we do? The terrorists used a lot of creativity in the way that they turned planes into bombs, the way they committed a terrorist attack. We don’t use the same creativity as the criminals. And the fact of the matter is most of what you see is what people call “security theater.” It’s meant to make you feel good and feel protected, but most of it isn’t very sophisticated. There was a study that came out in the US government. They looked at how many guns were caught at airports in the United States. And if you added up the cost of all of the security for the gun found, it was about $40 million per gun. I will say, and complement the European Union, because the European directive on data privacy is perhaps some of the strongest privacy laws in the world. And those in the United States are the weakest. Just about every major country in the world has a national privacy commissioner. The United States does not.

C: You’ve spent time in Italy. What’s your experience with Italian police?

G: Yeah, I’ve worked with a number of police. The Polizia di Stato and the Polizia Postale, delle Comunicazioni. They do a very good job, and they’re internationally recognized experts. They go all over the world. The Italian police have launched a number of very good investigations, and in fact they were pioneering in creating a virtual police force. So actually the Polizia di Stato, you can go online and visit a virtual police station with avatars. No country is perfect, but Italy has done a lot of good work.