The virtualization of crime

I love this piece by Scott Adams:

Imagine.  The Internet has no way of knowing who you are dealing with.  What environment could be more convenient for the criminally inclined?

Since starting to work on the Identity Metasystem I've learned more and more about the hoists being pulled off in the context of virtual reality.  Over time, we have seen the attacks become more professionalized, and ultimately linked to well organized international syndicates.  Part of the basic equation is that the international nature of virtual reality makes it especially hard to deal with the type of organization that is emerging at the boundary of its interface with the brick and mortar world.

But recently, we've seen more highly focused attacks that are essentially artisinal.  It seems to be a case of “think globally, act locally.”  Some of the schemes put in place depend on intimate knowledge of the workings of specific sites, and even specific communities and indvidiuals.  This is no longer generic targeting.  It's highly individualized, the work of community professionals of a special kind, who may draw upon internationally organized resources as necessary.

And of course this all makes sense.  Computerization has progressively worked its way through the various professions and industry sectors and nooks and crannies of our society, and we've reached the point that a growing number of criminals are no more likely to function without computers than are accountants (not to cast judgement on whether some accountants are or are not ciminals…)

As the level of familiarity with technology grows and increasingly wider swaths of the population become aware of the opportunities that await us in virtual reality, it is obvious that more and more criminals will find their place there. 

I walked into my local Office Depot a few days ago and amazingly, almost all the stationary goods and high class pens and filing contraptions and things that have always made such places interesting, had basically disappeared into a distant corner, while the whole center of the store consisted of computers, printers, electronic cash registers and cameras.  A further indication of the growing virtualization of which cyber criminalization is just a natural a part.

But to keep any balance at all, we really do need to fix the fundamental architectural problem of the internet: having a way that we can, when we want to, be sure who we are connecting with.

In other words, we need to put in place an Identity Metasystem.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

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