Cyber security, future crimes and the dark side of technology

“Future Crimes” by Marc Goodman is a very scary book about cyber, data and crime. We have covered some books that touch on the topic before such as “Filter Bubble”, “Overconnected” and “Brandwashed”, but “Future Crimes, a journey to the dark side of technology and how to survive it” is an eye-opener.

The scary statistics

Let’s start with some scary statistics:

  • 200,000 new pieces of malware are identified every day
  • One-third of all households in the USA are infected by malicious software
  • 95% of all malware is not detected by most virus checkers (those include McAfee and Symantec)
  • A hacking intrusion takes 210 days to detect
  • 75% of the time your defences can be penetrated in minutes
  • Only 15% require more than a few hours (but are still hacked)
  • The average cost per record stolen is $ 188
  • In 2017 a 100 billion will be spent on software and hardware security
  • 110 million accounts were stolen from Target stores alone
  • The value of location data will be over a 100 billion in the next ten years
  • Android was created to give Google access to all your mobile data
  • Data brokers earn 156 billion every year
  • Acxiom has over 700 million consumer profiles worldwide
  • Experian sold the data on 2/3 of the USA population to an organised crime group in Vietnam
  • 13.1 million Americans are the victim of identity theft annually. 500,000 of them are children, costing $ 21 billion in 2012
  • 600,000 accounts on Facebook are compromised every day
  • 25% of all reviews on Yelp are bogus
  • 11.2% of Facebook accounts are fake
  • 25% of all credit reports contain errors
  • 100 million phishing messages are sent every day
  • Organised crime is 15-20% of the global GDP
  • 80% of all hackers are now working or organised crime
  • Kickstarter was hacked

Everything is data

You can see where this is going. This is all about data. Google and Facebook are free because they are data collectors and aggregators. Google is worth 400 billion and the value of every long term profile on Facebook is worth 81 dollars. Both have hundreds of petabytes on their users (both don’t use the word customers…. this should make you thinks). They know everything you have done online and increasingly everything else. Imagine if Facebook was there since 1950. Anything in your past you don’t want anyone to know?

No privacy

In the USA online data that is collected by third parties are not considered private. Which means it can be used by Revenue, the police or the divorce lawyer of your ex. The Stasi could only tap 40 phones nationwide at their peak. Now Orwell’s 1984 is here, and it is called Google, Facebook or Watson. You probably have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet. All that data is stored, and a hacker can get access to that data. Any data that is collected will invariably leak.

Do no evil?

Yes, the crooks are not only the criminals:

  • 41% of all cyber attacks are from China
  • The NSA is listening
  • Google used the street view cars for more than taking pictures
  • Google was fined $22.5 million for illegally circumventing privacy settings
  • When you fill in your online profile for OkCupid, that data is immediately shared with over 5o0 data brokers. Check your terms and conditions
  • Facebook has conducted social experiments without permission and keep your data even after you have de-activated the account.
  • Every time you update, the privacy settings go back to standards setting, which basically gives full access
  • The average person will encounter 1,462 privacy policies every year, with an average length of 2,518 words
  • PayPal’s privacy policy is longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • Google Drive’s privacy settings will give Google the rights to all your content and IP (If JK Rowling had written Harry Potter on Google Docs, she would have granted Google the worldwide rights)

Think of what can be done. Google has access to your calendar, your maps, your contacts, your documents, your pictures, voice, phone, the apps you use on your Android, your translations, the videos you watch on Youtube, the conversations you have on Skype, your Nest, your camera, your eyes (Google glasses), your wallet. Look at the companies they are buying (robots, cameras, sensors, drones, AI). Here is the list

You are their inventory. They better mean their slogan…… because if not……..

Your eyeballs can be hacked too

That is just on the data side. They can also hack your screen. Which means that you should not always believe what you see. Your phone screen might be controlled by somebody else. The CT scanner in the hospital can be manipulated. Your computer screen can be manipulated. Your GPRS screen can be manipulated. Virtual reality can be manipulated. Facebook has already manipulated you and Google can change your filter bubble with the flick of a switch (or algorithm).

Everything can be hacked

Everything that is connected can be hacked. And now we are at the beginning of the internet of things. Connecting everything. Which means that nothing can be hidden and everything can be hacked. Software and hardware. There are hardware viruses in chargers that can hack your phone. They found hidden wifi cards in kitchen equipment that could hack your wifi (and then the rest). Your car can be hacked. Your pacemaker. Your hearing aid. Your headset. Your toys. Your lamp or your lightbulb (it is called Conversnitch). Your TV or Skype camera (they are watching you). Your coffee pot. Your burglar alarm. Your electronic locks. Your fridge. Your wearables. Google’s NEST has been hacked.  70% of all IoT devices have 25 unique security flaws.

If you are in business

Photocopiers can be hacked, and I bet you didn’t know that photocopiers also have an internal hard disk where all copies are stored. Amazing what you can find on copiers that have been thrown away. Your printer can be hacked. The video conference system in your board room can be hacked.

If you are in government

Your infrastructure (energy, roads, water, broadband) can be hacked. Your databases (passports, police, medical, revenue) can be hacked. Your satellites can be hacked. In fact, criminals are already launching their own mini satellites themselves.

The future of hacking

Robots can be hacked. Your servant robot will be sharpening the knife, while you are asleep, watching you. Your augmented body parts can be hacked. Your biometrics can be hacked. Facial recognition algorithms can be hacked. Facebook has the largest depository of biometric data on earth. They can be hacked. Keystroke recognition software can be hacked (Coursera uses keystroke recognition as a tool to identify users). Augmented reality can be hacked. Drones can be hacked. Your 3D and 4D printer can be hacked. Algorithms can be hacked. Now combine that with AI and the exponential curve. Watson as the new Al Capone or Don Watson.

Brain, DNA, Quantum, IoB, nano


  • Consider the development in brain computing interface (look up Emotiv and NeuroSky). IBM thinks that mind reading is no longer science fiction. Criminals soon can hack your brain.
  • Consider the development of DNA sequencing and synthetic biology. Your cells can be hacked. The DNA database probably already has been hacked. Combine that with bioprinters and you have.
  • Consider the development of quantum computers, which will be making hacking easier.
  • Consider the development of not only the Internet of Things but the network of microbes or the internet of biological things.
  • Consider the developments in nanotechnology. Nanobots can be hacked too.
  • Combine these developments together and through exponentially on top of it and you have a potent mix for criminal Armageddon or an exponential version of 1984.


At the end of the book, he does give a number of tips on how to help you to protects yourself and they are very obvious:

  • Update regularly
  • Use sophisticated and different passwords
  • Know where you are downloading from
  • Watch your administrator settings
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it
  • Encrypt
  • Think before you share

The above avoid 85% of all threats.

New words

The indication of a good book is the number of new words I learned:

  • Hacktivist (activist using hacking as a tool)
  • Crime singularity
  • Dataveillance (surveillance using data)
  • Sock puppetry (creating fake profiles)
  • Swatting (GPRS manipulation)
  • Flash rob (coordinated robbery by hackers)
  • CaaS (Crime as a Service)
  • Bluesnarfing (hacking your Bluetooth to get access to your data)
  • Drone-versiting (drones as an advertising medium)
  • Narco drones (drones smuggling and transporting drugs)
  • Chemputer (printing medicine (or drugs))
  • Algorithmic criminal justice (using algorithms to determine infractions of the law)
  • DNA stalkers (hackers stalking your DNA)
  • DNA hard drive (four grammes of DNA can store one year of digital data created by humankind)
  • Shodan (the criminal version of Google)

Business opportunity

If you want a book that makes you think about the unintended consequences of technology, this is one to pick. It also screams business opportunity. Cybersecurity is a hotspot.

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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