10.1 Online Outlaws: Computer Crime

ransom-noteMalware makers are always coming up with new ways to exploit innocent computer users. One relatively new breed of malware, ransomware, encrypts files, making them effectively unusable, unless their owners pay ransom to the perpetrators. This short NPR story focuses on this very real threat.


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9780544251793_hresWar and technology have been intertwined throughout human history. Today’s digital technology is creating a whole new form of war that’s all but invisible to most of us. In his book @War, Shane Harris describes the war that’s waged on the Internet and describes the relationship between government and the tech industry that makes that war possible. In this NPR Fresh Air program he’s interviewed by Terry Gross.

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Blackmail in the Digital Age

April 3, 2014

Blackmail isn’t just for low-life con artists anymore. Digital extortion—demanding ransom in return for not doing damage to critical computer systems—has become increasingly common in recent years. This Huffington Post has details.

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Catching a Money Virus

January 23, 2013
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Computer crime can be costly, and it’s not going away anytime soon. This Huffington Post article describes the Gozi virus, its creators, and its impact on banks and their customers.

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How to Avoid a Personal Digital Meltdown

August 21, 2012
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Wired writer Mat Honan recently lost just about everything he had stored on his computer and in the cloud. This NPR story suggests five things you can do to avoid his fate.

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No Longer Anonymous?

June 21, 2012
Parmy Olson on The Daily Show

The secret global Internet subculture known as Anonymous has generated plenty of headlines, but most people don’t know much about it. Journalist Parmy Olson’s book, “We Are Anonymous”, reveals how the organization works and how it is evolving. In this light-hearted interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show she talks about what she learned writing the book.

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Hacktivism: Hacking for a Better World?

March 5, 2012

One of the biggest tech trends isn’t a new gadget or tool; it’s a relatively new way of using gadgets and tools as agents of change. This article in CBC News explains why and how “hacktivism” is becoming an important—and potent—force in our world. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/02/06/hacktivism-.html

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Can a Botnet Bring Down the Internet?

October 5, 2011
Computer Circuitry

For three years a worm called Conficker has been wiggling its way into computers around the world, creating a massive botnet that has the potential to wreak havoc on the Internet. In this chilling NPR interview, author Mark Bowden explains to Fresh Air’s Terry gross how this little-known worm threatens our networks, our livelihoods, and […]

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Spy vs. Spy in a Digital World

August 10, 2011
Chinese hacker illustration

The war against hackers has become a global war of economics and politics. This in-depth Vanity Fair article takes a penetrating look at the grossly underreported impact of Chinese hackers on the US economy.

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Behind the Front Lines in the Virus Wars

July 22, 2011

In this TED talk, Mikko Hypponen tells us about–and shows us–a variety of malware species, from the earliest PC viruses to today’s high-tech organized crime menace.

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