Thursday, 16 November 2017

Cybercrime: it’s here to stay

I’ve spent years writing a crime novel in which the protagonists (the terrorist, and the good guys) are all GEEKS.  The crimes are committed not with bombs or bullets but using computers and the internet (with effects are as devastating as a mass bombing campaign, perhaps more so).  So, Trading Down is a cybercrime book.  I’m pleased to say that Amazon recognises this genre and you will find plenty on offer when you search “cybercrime.”

Is cybercrime a fad or is it here to stay?

Yup, it’s here to stay.  Why?  Because criminal activity in cyberspace is growing explosively, creating more and more interesting opportunities – and challenges - for crime writers.  Cybercrime is exploding because cyberspace itself is exploding, in three dimensions.

First, and most obviously, almost everything we know is now being stored on-line.  Books, images, music, tax records, bank statements, browsing history… we are beginning to be uncomfortably aware of just how much Facebook or Google knows about us.  Crime stories with blackmail, stolen blueprints, compromising photographs… these works will in future be cybercrime stories.

Second, criminals make money and they need to store it.  In the past, stored as cash (Saddam Hussein and his family had $780m stashed away in $100 bills!).  Or stored in Swiss bank accounts.  That’s got harder.  Today’s criminals want ransom paid in bitcoins or ethers.   Cryptocurrencies have become the Swiss bank accounts of the 21st century.  Where the bad guys go, the crime novelist will follow. 

And finally, cyberspace is expanding into the physical world through IoT, the Internet of Things.  It’s not just fridges and thermostats connected to the Net.  Tomorrow’s terrorists can shut down jet engines or turn off the power to New York.  Last summer, the New Scientist published an article “Ships fooled in GPS spoofing attack suggest Russian cyberweapon.” 

Cyberspace is exploding; criminals and nation states are diving into it and we crime novelists are hot on their heels.

Trading Down by Stephen Norman is out now, published by Endeavour Press

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