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Famous Criminal Opines that Technology Breeds Crime 243

Posted by Zonk
from the not-the-only-thing-that-breeds-online dept.
jcatcw writes "In an interview with Computerworld's editor in chief, Don Tennant, Frank Abagnale spoke about his life of crime and crime prevention. Abagnale is a notorious criminal, whose exploits were portrayed in the movie 'Catch Me If You Can.' Abagnale claims: 'It would be 4,000 times easier to do today, what I did 40 years ago, and I probably wouldn't go to prison for it. Technology breeds crime — it always has, it always will ... I really think the more technology there is in the world, the more you have to instill character and ethics. You can build all the security systems in the world; you can build the most sophisticated technology, and all it takes is one weak link — someone who operates that technology — to bring it all down." This would seem to echo commentary in a New York Times article about the rise of Russian hackers in recent years.
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Famous Criminal Opines that Technology Breeds Crime

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  • Nature of Things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:39PM (#21066217)
    For everything that benefits society, along comes those who seek to use said benefits for personal, illicit gain. I don't think it's so much that "Technology Breeds Crime" as "Crime Feeds On Technology".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:57PM (#21066371)
      For everything that benefits society, along comes those who seek to use said benefits for personal, illicit gain.

      I will not stand for your impugning politicians in that manner!
    • Re:Nature of Things (Score:5, Interesting)

      by node 3 (115640) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:59PM (#21066387)
      What exactly is the difference?

      Ignoring the pedantic difference of "breeds" vs "feeds" (both of which are metaphors anyway), it's essentially "technology facilitates crime" vs "criminals utilize technology", which both describe the exact same thing. You can't have one without the other.

      I realize you are reacting against the fear that people will hear this and fight against technology instead of fighting against crime, but that's them being irrational. The best way to fight irrationality is not more irrationality, and the claim that technology does not help criminals is irrational. Teach them to oppose the crime, not the technology. But also accept that sometimes the best way to oppose the crime is to limit the technology.

      A very good example is credit card receipts. Presently, receipts are not allowed to contain a certain amount of data. This all but eliminates one avenue of identity theft/credit card fraud.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LordKaT (619540)
        Here's the problem with wording: Foxnews and George W Bush.

        "criminals use technology" means that technology can be a neutral thing in which can both benefit and harm society.

        "technology breeds criminals" means the loopy fuckers in power will send us into another dark age, all in the name of security.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640)

          Here's the problem with wording: Foxnews and George W Bush.

          Yes. That's exactly what I stated the problem was: the irrational people. Without the irrational people, Fox News and GWB would be impotent.

          "criminals use technology" means [1] that technology can be a neutral thing in which can both benefit and harm society.

          "technology breeds criminals" means [2] the loopy fuckers in power will send us into another dark age, all in the name of security.

          Nice try.

          You're swapping definitions.
          means [1]: is defined as
          means [2]: leads to

          If you re-read my post, it will be *extremely* clear that I'm referring to "means [1]", and point out that the problem caused by "means [2]" is not the wording, but the irrational people.

          My solution is to teach people to think. Your solution is to trick people with wording. My solution sol

          • Totally agree. Education is necessary and sufficient to solve the problems.

            But, I'd look at things this way:

            "Complexity Breeds Crime" *and* "Crime Feeds On Complexity".

            And as long as many Homo Sapiens are un-educated, they will be
            able to be exploited by others using that complexity and
            their ignorance against them.

            Yes, Technology is Complex, But Complexity has been around
            as long as there have been lawyers.
      • Language (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ElMiguel (117685)

        Language attempts to convey limited information about reality. That information is not just conveyed through the explicit meanings of individual words, but also through more complex means such as context, emphasis and innuendo.

        "Technology Breeds Crime" places the emphasis on technology whereas "Crime Feeds On Technology" places the emphasis on crime. I would say this is a story more about crime than about technology, so the second is more appropriate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640)

          "Technology Breeds Crime" places the emphasis on technology whereas "Crime Feeds On Technology" places the emphasis on crime.

          Agreed.

          I would say this is a story more about crime than about technology

          I don't think so. It's equally dependent on crime and technology. Remove either one and the article makes absolutely no sense.

          so the second is more appropriate.

          I fully disagree, which is the exact point I'm trying to make. If you treat this primarily as a problem with the criminals, you will be less likely to make beneficial technological changes (which is, in fact, the primary motivation for slashdot-types to say, "it's not the technology, it's the criminal") for fear of the potential for irrational changes. And a very rational f

      • Technology breeds criminals implies that technology needs to be slowed or stopped.

        Criminals use technology implies (and clearly indicates) that criminals are always going to abuse technology to facilitate crime.

        There is a difference, and I'm not willing to entertain the idea that technology is a bad thing just because it can be abused.
        • by node 3 (115640)

          Technology breeds criminals implies that technology needs to be slowed or stopped.

          No it doesn't. If that's what you infer, you're jumping to conclusions.

          Criminals use technology implies (and clearly indicates) that criminals are always going to abuse technology to facilitate crime.

          Nowhere in that statement is it "clearly indicated" or implied (in fact, it can't both "clearly indicate" and "imply". Do you know what those words mean?) that criminals will "always abuse technology to facilitate crime".

          Unless you're irrational and prone to jumping to conclusions, to thinking with your gut. I propose teaching people to think with their minds, and to root out and expose truthiness for the fraud that it is.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bladesjester (774793)
            Technology breeds criminals implies that technology needs to be slowed or stopped.
            No it doesn't. If that's what you infer, you're jumping to conclusions.


            Actually, you're the one who is wrong. To breed means to create. Saying that technology breeds criminals means that it creates them where they wouldn't otherwise be, and that implies that technology is to blame. Therefore, if it is the cause of creating criminals, it must somehow be held in check.

            It's a pretty clear implication.

            By contrast, saying that c
          • The article headline says "Technology Breeds Crime"

            There is a direct IMPLICATION (yes, I'm well aware of what it means) that technology somehow is responsible for crime from that statement, and if the statement is true, any logical person would infer that the purpose was to state that technology must be somehow kept in check, there is no other conclusion and certainly no other reason for the opinion.

            You tell me how "technology breeds crime" can possibly be taken any other way than to imply that technology i
      • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:58PM (#21067145)

        I realize you are reacting against the fear that people will hear this and fight against technology instead of fighting against crime, but that's them being irrational. The best way to fight irrationality is not more irrationality, and the claim that technology does not help criminals is irrational. Teach them to oppose the crime, not the technology. But also accept that sometimes the best way to oppose the crime is to limit the technology.
        I think what a lot of people miss is that technology really only changes affects the types of crimes that are being committed. Sure forgery and ID theft are probably far easier now than they were 40 years ago, but 40 years ago it was far harder than it had been 150 years ago. These things come in waves, and it'll take some time before law enforcement and the legal system really catch up with them.

        The other thing is that these are nonviolent crimes that technology is presently abetting, even though they are still serious crimes, they can at least be largely cleaned up and resolved.

        I don't think that anybody would really should argue that technology is the problem, as there were far more violent crimes prior to the modern police force and all the improved investigative techniques that have been found since. Its just that people who are victimized get far more attention now than they did 100 years ago, so it seems like crimes are higher than they were.
        • Forgery is great today - you can, with the help of a complicit person, set up a highly trusted fake ID that's produced by the feds. Best part is that the bar for renewals is almost always much lower than initial issuance. If you were able to get an ID from someone that would soon not need it and they were similar looking to you, you might be able to renew it with your info and have it as a second ID. examples: moving to NYC, going overseas, etc. Food for thought, but not really digested.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fractoid (1076465)

          I think what a lot of people miss is that technology really only changes affects the types of crimes that are being committed. Sure forgery and ID theft are probably far easier now than they were 40 years ago, but 40 years ago it was far harder than it had been 150 years ago. These things come in waves, and it'll take some time before law enforcement and the legal system really catch up with them.

          From the first page of the article, this 'famous criminal' seems to think that all this great technology like photoshop and colour laser printers and the intarwebs are a mystery to the cops. He says he can forge a convincing-looking cheque far more easily now than then, sure, but now it will be laughed out of the bank rather than cleared. Its most likely use is to scam third parties that would probably fall for any cheque not actually drawn in crayon.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Artifakt (700173)
            this 'famous criminal' seems

            You have no idea who he is, do you? He really is a world class expert in this subject. It's like you just read an article about Einstein and said "this 'famous physicist' seems...".
            This man managed to fake the qualifications to pass as a commercial airline pilot, and drew a paycheck for it, for several years, got certified on new planes, etc. (he was 15 when he started this). Then he did the same thing as a fake doctor, pr
        • I totally disagree. 40 years ago, forgery was outrageously easy because we just extended methods or technologies meant for a much simpler era.

          In the early 20th century, few people had access to checks, and few people travelled. When you wrote a check to someone, the person receiving the check could check a city directory and confirm where you lived, what your profession was and whether you had written bad checks in the past. In the 60's and 70's, society became more mobile and more anonymous. More people ha
      • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:59PM (#21067153)
        What exactly is the difference?

        Come on, don't be a simpleton. You don't see the difference in the reversal of cause and effect?

        If "technology breeds crime", then every sufficiently advanced country in the world would be a hotbed of criminal activity. How much crime is there in, say, Japan? In fact, their crime rate is dropping as technology advances - and that includes white collar crime. If the adage that "technology breeds crime" were assumed to be true, then even one exception would prove it false. And there's your exception.

        In countries where there is already a large criminal element, technology may enable them to more easily commit crimes, or to commit crimes that were never possible before. But technology is not "breeding" that crime; that crime already existed. Russia has been basically a lawless society in a lot of ways since the fall of the Soviet Union (and probably even before; we just didn't know it) - it didn't take the internet to put it in that state. There are all sorts of forces that create criminality; technology, though, is not one of them.
        • You nailed it.

          Now who's going to do the much harder task of figuring out how to emulate low-crime/high-tech states, instead of just blaming evil on technology?

          Cheers.
        • Come on, don't be a simpleton. You don't see the difference in the reversal of cause and effect?

          I actually think this whole argument is a load of BS. Saying "Technology breeds crime" is like saying "cutlery breeds obesity".

          There's a relationship between obesity and cutlery, in that eating is neater with cutlery, but cutlery doesn't necessarily cause obesity any more than obesity requires cutlery to occur. There is no direct causal or effectual link.

        • In fact, their crime rate is dropping as technology advances - and that includes white collar crime.

          Reported crime may be down. Unreported crime such as P-P trading in copyrighted material is often not counted.
    • by loganrapp (975327) <loganrapp@gmail.cRASPom minus berry> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:06PM (#21066877)
      To Abignale's credit, his solution isn't to restrict technology but to invest more in the character of people.
    • by jd (1658)
      I have always argued, and will continue to argue, that if you want to minimize crime, you must have a well-balanced society where understanding, technology, society and cultural expression advance together, that to let one advance and not another will create friction and division, and that it is this friction and division which leads to some forms of crime.

      Other forms of crime are a product of society's inadequate response to the mental and physical needs of others. If is unclear how many of the mentally

    • For everything that benefits society, along comes those who seek to use said benefits for personal, illicit gain.

      As a prime example is the MP3 format. There are more users of P-P trading MP3's than voted for the President. Those who use the technology for personal gain is many.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:42PM (#21066237)
    It only makes SOME crimes easier.

    When you had to walk into a bank to empty someone's bank account, you were limited by how far you could travel.

    Now, when you can do it across the 'Web, you are not limited in the same way.

    The problem is that the security model has not kept pace with the concept of "web services" offered by the banks. But if the banks were 100% liable for any loss, you'd see them focusing on the security.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:42PM (#21066239) Homepage Journal

    It isn't that technology breeds crime; it is that technology is a form of human enhancement, and some humans are criminals. However, technology also enhances law enforcement, brings new ethical and moral issues to the table for society (or the ruling political junta) to rule on, and empowers people further and further down the economic scale as technology itself becomes inexpensive.

    I don't think we ought to be "criminalizing" technology as a whole. We simply need to keep considering, and re-considering, the ethical and moral issues of the day in the light of what our current society can tolerate without infringing on the liberties of individuals and the security of the group.

    If we have a fault, it is an inability to change quickly when we see social regulation - like the drug war, or the current pogrom against sexuality - isn't working. That's a political problem, and one we (speaking as a US citizen) have been roundly unable to address.

    • If technology breeds crime, do we have more crime now than we used to? I get annoyed by people who claim that "X leads to more crime," and yet don't back that up with crime stats. Is there more crime now than there used to be? I know at least where violent crime is concerned there's not.

      Also, with crimes that are more common with technology, like fraud, some of them were being committed legally. Do some research in to the crap surrounding medicine 100+ years ago. People who outright lie about what their sup
      • by domatic (1128127)
        I still see ads for "fat burners" and "body enhancement" on TV all the time. Don't even get me started on Enzyte Bob. Patent medicines are alive and well, there is just a more complicated set of rules about what you can and can't say. These rules in no way impede the basic dynamic of promising the world for almost nothing.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:15PM (#21066919) Homepage

      It isn't that technology breeds crime; it is that technology is a form of human enhancement, and some humans are criminals. However, technology also enhances law enforcement, brings new ethical and moral issues to the table for society (or the ruling political junta) to rule on, and empowers people further and further down the economic scale as technology itself becomes inexpensive.
      It's also too easy to say technology doesn't upseet the balance between criminals and law enforcement, or in general between attack and defense. Charging first in a knifefight is rarely a good idea, shooting first in a gunfight is. Using encryption is easier than breaking encryption. Computers make sharing information easier than restricting information. I'd also contend that technology empowers the weak - I bet the Gestapo, KGB etc. would love to have had the abilities they have today. How about the CCTV system in Britain, capable of tracking every car around the nation? Has the latest hotspot for producing tech gadgets in China led to freedom and democracy?

      It's not just "ethical and moral" issues, it really changes the battlefield. It's not that morality has changed, only that people have gotten the ability. For example, notice how many people are very rude in imperonal conversation, the way they'd never speak to you on the phone or face to face. Why? Because the way we communicate has changed. Same with the respect for copyright law - I don't think the morality or ethics was that different in the days of mix tapes. They've just gotten new opportunities to carry them out. Sometimes technology enables behavior we don't want, but there's just no turning back time.
      • Actually, there is nothing new on the table. The basic concepts of "DRM" and easy copying of Copyrighted material go back to the days of player pianos and rolls of punched paper that played copyrighted songs.

        The internet and digital music are NOT new concepts. The ONLY difference is the speed and ease by which these things may be done. The legal concepts, the morals, and the ethics are all the same as they were 150 years ago!!!

        The only difference today is the degree to which the public has accepted th
    • The simple fact, and part of the problem, is that historically criminals have had access to technology before law enforcement. So there has been a window of opportunity for criminals to think of ways to exploit technology before law enforcement catches on.

      And that is the way it should be!!!

      Imagine a world in which government and law enforcement had access to most technology before the public did. You would not be a free citizen very long.



      "Never appeal to a man's better nature. He may not have one.
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Funny)

    by NerveGas (168686) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:51PM (#21066303)
    ... because before the Internet, folks just sat around thinking "I wish I could go steal some money, but I just can't figure out how."
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thefirelane (586885) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:57PM (#21066373)
      ... because before the Internet, folks just sat around thinking "I wish I could go steal some money, but I just can't figure out how."

      But he does have a point: today's technology separates people. I see the point of your joke: people used to rob banks. But now, if you can simply click and hack your way to a robbery, more people would do this rather than hold someone at gun point.

      It is the criminal equivalent of how online discourse is so much more harsh than in real life: people do things they wouldn't think about doing in person.
      • Well, the old cave dwellers were not separated by the internet. They were separated by the mountain in between them.
      • I think this argument doesn't hold water. Someone who wanted to rob a bank would rob a bank, whether at gunpoint or by drilling a hole into safes.

        The difference is that today, it's no hassle to rob a bank in London while you're sitting in Sidney. There are simply more banks in reach for the average bank robber. Or, since no violence is involved, one should probably call them bank thieves.
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      precisely. technology doesn't breed crime it exposes it. The mastermind criminals of today are very well known. The only problem is the government's red tape.

      And the fact that the criminals are the government.
    • Indeed. Today you just go to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and you get everything you need, even with illustrations and all.
    • ... because before the Internet, folks just sat around thinking "I wish I could go steal some money, but I just can't figure out how."

      Crime doesn't always equal theft, assault, or other harm. How about copyright violation? It's true you don't end up with a pile of cash taken from someone else, but you could easly collect several gigs of MP3's and copyrighted porn photos in a very short time on a P-P network. The gain from crime isn't always money.
  • by yusing (216625) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:55PM (#21066349) Journal
    "The person operating the technology" ... A stick, a rock, a screwdriver, all tools. Can I kill somebody with a screwdriver? A Glock, on the other hand, is designed for a reason.

    The better a tool is a doing crime, the more we need to ask: who designed it and why?

    Do computers make some crimes easier? Yeah. But they also make detecting and preventing crimes easier. They're general-purpose tools.

    Nothing has changed in 2000 years about how much character it takes to avoid criminality. So if there's more crime, there's less instilling or more unbridled greed.

    I'd blame the latter. Leadership sets the example.
    • > Nothing has changed in 2000 years about how much character it takes to avoid criminality. So if there's more crime, there's less instilling or more unbridled greed.

      Things have changed in the last 2000 years about how much character it takes to avoid criminality. The state of being a criminal is defined solely by law. In the last 2000 years, laws have become increasingly broad. It takes an increasingly restricted character to abide by the laws of the land, where ever you are.

      Just don't attribute crime a
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz (762201) *

      A Glock, on the other hand, is designed for a reason.

      Um-hmmm. To make money for the manufacturer by creating an object that will be highly desired such that people will pay well for it as compared to what it costs to put it together. From the consumer perspective, to shoot bullets. And going by what said Glock is mostly used for in that regard, that is, shooting bullets, said #1 reason would be target shooting, #2 would be gun collecting, and a very, very distant #3 would be putting a bullet into a l

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:55PM (#21066353) Homepage
    ...but it also makes it far more traceable (along- sadly- with more legitimate activities). The potential intrusiveness of technology into our lives and the trail of electronic fingerprints we leave is far greater than most people are aware of, and it's going to get worse before- if- it gets better.

    For one simple example, what about the trail that your mobile phone leaves with the network when you leave it switched on and are travelling somewhere?

    This isn't even counting the fact that with future improvements in technology, it's quite feasible that activities that you can "get away" with today could leave a trail that is inciminating with tomorrow's forensics and analysis technology. I'll bet that people who committed murders 30 or 40 years ago didn't even consider the possibility of their getting nabbed by DNA tests in the future.

    And in all honesty, even if the data we have available to us today isn't able to tell us much, this might change with improved data mining/analysis tools. Something that someone does today might not be enough to get them prosecuted immediately, but what happens when improved tools come along in the future and spot things that had been missed previously?
  • Oh, FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:57PM (#21066377)
    All the intelligent criminals are already at the top. They simply made what they do legal.

     
    • I don't think they like being called criminals. I think they prefer the title "CEO." Oh, and you don't even have to buy the laws ahead of time any more. These days, they offer retroactive immunity, though it seems to be a little more expensive.
  • by MissionAccomplished (951344) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:00PM (#21066401)
    Anyone know what it means to be 'Notrious'? Is that 'not nutritious'? Damned editors...
  • Technology doesn't breed crime, it facilitates crime (as it does massive election fraud and bad customer service, but that's for another /. story).
    • are making the same comment... most of whom don't realise that that is Frank Abbagale's entire point for the length of the article, and they're arguing a nitpick argument over a single poorly chosen word in the opening line.
  • Uhhh Actually... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Uh actually, technology breeds prosperity which sadistic sociopaths view as more opportunities to commit crime.
  • logic flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:03PM (#21066425) Journal
    He seems to have a logic flaw in his way of viewing the world. On the one hand, he considers that the world has no ethics:

    we live in an extremely unethical society....so today you have a lot of young people who have no character, no ethics and they find no problem in defrauding somebody or stealing from somebody or cheating somebody.
    but then he goes on to say that people are basically honest:

    The problem is that most people are basically honest, so they don't sit back and think about how someone would do this.
    So what is his point of view here? Does he think people have ethics but don't manage to pass them on to the younger generation? Does he think the only way to pass on ethics is in classes? I'm not really sure. But he seems to have gotten himself into some sort of problematic way of seeing things.
    • Re:logic flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:11PM (#21066899)
      That's because he's not a good person to ask for insight in to the human psyche. Basically, all that I read about him points to him being a sociopath. That's more or less a person who's incapable of empathizing with others. They cannot "put them in someone else's shoes" so to speak, they can't consider how their actions might make you feel. As such, they generally see it as perfectly acceptable to commit crimes, lie, cheat, steal, whatever so long as it enriches them since in their world, they are the only ones that matter.

      Well, since people are quite good at taking their own situation and projecting it to the world, you can see how he'd figure that others have no ethics and that it has to be taught. After all he has no ethics. To the extent he's gotten any it is because he believes that obeying these rules is better for him.

      While I think he's got a bit of truth overall, in that the Internet in particular is making it easier for certain kinds of sociopaths to commit crimes without fear of being caught, I wouldn't give his analysis of humans any weight.
    • by turing_m (1030530)
      He's talking about an intergenerational difference in people, which is why he mentions youth having no training in ethics, while most people can be said to be "basically honest". His main thrust is the following:

      "So today you have a lot of young people who have no character, no ethics and they find no problem in defrauding somebody or stealing from somebody or cheating somebody. Until we change that, crime is just going to get easier, faster, more global, harder to detect."

      I think he's focusing on the sympt
    • by tftp (111690)
      There is no conflict in his words because he chose them carefully. It is true that *most* of the people are basically honest. Out of the remaining part of the society *a lot* are totally devoid of ethics. If we go down to numbers, I'd say 80% are basically honest, 5% are ready to steal, and the remaining 15% are driven by the circumstances.

      From this we can conclude that his main concern is with those 5% (or however many) that don't see anything wrong in stealing a child's lunch money or setting a puppy o

    • we live in an extremely unethical society... most people are basically honest...

      I read that as saying "the group lacks ethics" and "the individual posesses honesty". I.E. The property of the individual doesn't scale to the community.

      To me, that makes a good deal of sense. Look at how our most visible officials (US Executive--now and then), personas (Ms. Spears & Lohan, Mr. O'Reilly), and social structures (Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adephia, Monsanto, Halliburton, Walmart, (MP|RI)AA, etc.) operate or have

    • by pikine (771084)
      These two observations are perfectly compatible. On one hand, having no ethics means you don't think about the consequence your action could bring to others. This results in reckless behavior leading to criminal charges. Being "basically honest," or simply naive, means you don't realize how someone else's action could affect you. This results in not adequately protecting yourself leading to becoming a victim of crime. It just looks like society as a whole is becoming disintegrated.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by duffbeer703 (177751) *
      People are full of paradox. Everyone knows of devout, moral religious people who have dirty secrets like pedophilia or are stealing from the poorbox.

      Ethics and honesty are too different things.

      How many people would steal $5 from someone's wallet? And if they did, how likely are they to admit it?

      How about complaining about food at a mom & pop restaurant for the sole purpose of avoiding payment? And again, how likely are they to admit it?

      And finally, how about realizing that the cashier at Wal-Mart forgot
  • If you took away all technology that crime wouldn't happen?
    • Basically I'm fairly certain that most crimes would become impossible. Not because people suddenly got peaceful but because certain crimes are simply no longer possible.

      Imagine we got mind reading powers and it was illegal to read someone's mind without his consent. Now take that power away. Will someone break the mind-reading laws? How could they?
  • Technology breeds governments and control as well: The more technology there is, the more control governments seek to have over their subjects.

    Technology also breeds more effective community action: The more technology there is, the more easily people can form communities and co-operate more effectively.

    So, technology is an afterburner: It speeds up all existing social processes, including law enforcement, community cooperation, crime... anything.

    Therefore saying that 'technology helps X' is devoid

    • In other words, what you say is that technology increases government corruption. Yes, that matches my observation.

      (Just to give you the feeling how it is when you're paraphrased out of context :)
  • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmatt e r .org> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:16PM (#21066517) Journal

    This would seem to echo commentary in a New York Times article about the rise of Russian hackers in recent years.

    The Russians may be especially vulnerable to this, coming down as they are from a fully-controlled society. Under Communism, individuals must be taught from childhood to ignore their inner moral voice and instead follow the orders coming down from above. Inner sensibility is bred out, because it can only interfere with a command economy.

    But then the command structure toppled, and all of its cogs were set loose in "freedom, horrible freedom". No more orders coming down from above... and no inner voice (or at least an abnormally quiet one) and not much of a national religion to forcibly install one. Perhaps such people are therefore more likely to become free-riders, or worse, as the opportunities arise.

  • Yeah, there is a lot of "criminal" activity involving technology. But that criminal activity consists mostly of moving numbers around and rarely results in people getting hurt in a physical way. Overall, we're still a lot safer and better off than we were. And if you don't like the technology or the crime related to it, just don't use it. And if we, as a society, decided that some technologies might be too risky (on-line banking, e-voting, whatever), we could go back to paper.
  • "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers and then you ca
  • It might have become easier for criminals to get away with things but it has also become easier for the police to catch them. Computers can scan thousands or millions of fingerprints for matches, driving and passport records can be immediately displayed, police, financial etc. records from around the world can be viewed or transmitted instantly, automatic face recognition is becoming possible etc.

    I don't see, once the technology is stripped away, that things have really changed regarding criminals vs. the p
  • I'll admit that when I saw the TV series, The Pretender, I always assumed that Jarod's ability to fake believable nametags and other elements of an identity were highly unrealistic. From what Abignale is saying here, maybe that isn't the case.

    I'll admit that ever since I discovered the television series, real-life Pretenders according to the series' definition of the word have fascinated me. Abignale is an interesting man, as was Ferdinand Demara, the Pretender that the series was inspired by.

    Does anyone
  • by Cracked Pottery (947450) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:37PM (#21066663)
    Criminals do. The fact that we have gunpowder and pistols make it where an asshole requires a lot less in the balls department to rob a liquor store. I suppose you could try to pass photocopied 20 dollar bills, but you would be not only an asshole, but a stupid asshole. The world is always going to have a complement of assholes, but the cost of crime generated by most technologies is much less than the productive value.
  • for your convenience here [computerworld.com]

  • Technology is a tool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:43PM (#21066713)
    And a tool is neither good or evil. It only empowers the one able to wield it to use it for good or evil. Take whatever invention ever created and you will see that it can be used for both.

    Weapons are of course an easy example, but everything human ever invented works. It is something that gives the one able to use it a power edge over someone not equipped with it. Knowledge works a similar way, but to a lesser degree.

    And having more power than someone else can be used to exploit him. Ever been that way, ever will be. Technology is power. Superior technology allowed the exploitation of Africa and Asia as colonies. Superior technology (or rather, superior knowledge of technology) allows a trojan writer to exploit the "clueless" user with his infected machine.

    But that doesn't make technology a device for more crime. It makes technology a device of power. Not more, not less.
  • 2 thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:13PM (#21066911) Homepage Journal
    1. what technology does is increase the number of attack vectors. a lock box full of money has only a certain number of ways to steal the money inside. meanwhile, a complex intercontinental banking system has orders of magnitude more ways to steal that same amount of money

    that's why i've always said we should never have electronic, or even mechanical, voting systems. that even the most technologically advanced society should still use paper ballots. yes, you can still mess with paper ballots, but only in a small number of ways. anything more complicated than that, and you've just introduced 1,000 more ways to tamper with voting. the trust in the voting system is just too vital to imperil and be technophilic about it just to make it more "convenient"

    2. technology, yes, makes crime smarter... and this, on its flip side, is actually a GOOD thing. bear with me here:

    say you want to steal a guy's horde of gold in rome in 100 BC. ok, you have to actually kill a few people to get to it. bloody, messy, ugly, brutish. but the criminal doesn't necessarily want to kill to get the cash, but he will if he has to. now fast forward to the 20th century, a criminal just wants some money, so, like frank abignale, he merely manipulates the trust system of the technology involved in financial transactions. ie, he forges checks, and gets people money without actually causing a drop of blood to flow

    in other words, more technology turns crime from a game of violent sociopathic brutal physical force to one of subtle mind games and con artists. not that it's ok that you are left without your money, but it's better to be penniless and alive than penniless and dead

    it's still stealing your dough, but it's stealing it without turning you into a corpse. so it is progress, in a twisted way
  • Wealth in its own way breeds crime of the sort we're talking about. I'm excluding "pure violence" that is not at least in part a means to an end of acquiring something; the 911 hacker is in this exclusion.

    Banks, in a high trust society that allows their existence, breed wealth; putting your money in a bank has great benefits to you and the economy (for as long as that trust remains).

    Wille Sutton is famously said to have answered the question of why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is." So in a

  • Technology does not feed crime. Technology makes it easier for criminals to do their thing using the new technology for a few years while the law catches up.

    Remember, neither lawyers, judges, nor police officers are experts in the Internet, computers, etc., and it takes a while for them to ramp up those skills.

    As an aside, I wish they would ramp up on those skills BEFORE making stupid decisions that allow cartels like the RIAA to come to power.

    I see the problem with technology as it relates to crime to be
  • I must question both its timing and its spirit. "The west gets what it deserves"? Is that how NYTimes wants to portray Russia? Why don't they just go ahead an (in light of Putin's recent visit to Iran) say straight out "Oceania has always been at war with East Asia"?
  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @09:04PM (#21067541)

    You can build all the security systems in the world; you can build the most sophisticated technology, and all it takes is one weak link -- someone who operates that technology -- to bring it all down."

    Quite right. That is why Microsoft is a weak link.

  • "Technology breeds crime" is not at all true, and quite the opposite of reality. Technology may open new frontiers, which may offer new criminal possibilities, but the technology itself has the opposite effect.

    Telegraphs are what ended the era of the Wild West train robbers.

    Encryption has eliminated the benefit of tapping into data lines, and has obsoleted messengers carrying critical information that could be easily intercepted. Unfortunately, it is the human element that has prevented its use on laptops
  • Crime has been rampant throughout history.

    In areas of low technology you can commit crimes and leave without a trace-- start your life over.

    Technology may increase the potential size of the payoff.

    But increase the likelyhood? No.
     
  • With all the crime-fighting that's been enabled by technology (think forensics, for example, where people can leave only microscopic amounts of evidence behind at a crime-scene and STILL be tracked down based on it) - I think it all comes out about even, in the end.

    Sure, technology makes it easy to steal money from the comfort of one's home, with just a PC, an Internet connection, and some socially-engineered passwords.... But it also means more "casual conversation" is done via email or online chat, whe
  • Sure technology would make it even easier for him, but I'd be willing to bet that a person like Frank Abagnale would be at home in just about any society with the sort of rules that we are used to. He is a larger-than-life super villan of a criminal, the sort of person who was born with natural criminal... talent? I'm sure one could call it that, regardless of the nefarious intent of his actions. Sure, he was a bad guy. But who are we to judge the origins of his motive? The truth here is that this guy think
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @10:50PM (#21068135) Homepage

    Abagnale has some good points. Forgery is much easier than it used to be. Printing and paper quality are no guarantee of anything.

    A point Abagnale didn't make to the interviewer is that social engineering is easier, too, because people are more used to remote requests for information. Many of Abagnale's scams required him to physically go someplace and deceive someone. Most people can't act well enough to pull off a con like that. Now, much more can be done remotely. "Identity theft" barely existed before the Internet; a few times a year somebody might pull something off, but it wasn't widespread.

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @11:46PM (#21068439) Homepage Journal
    Anywhere that you have connectivity combined with the absence of a functioning judicial system; you will breed crime. It doesn't matter what that connectivity is, or how you measure that connectivity - whether it is in paved roads, running water, electricity - each of these factors contributes to both the reach of commerce and the reach of criminals. The two cannot be divorced from each other. If you have a rapid expansion of transportation, without an equal expansion of police power, criminals will exploit that weakness. In the wild west, outlaws would rob trains as they crossed the nation, knowing that they'd be vulnerable and there was little chance of being caught.

    Let's look at Russia. Back in the cold war era, there were technology export restrictions in place. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, those restrictions were relaxed. By the time we in the United States started going online en-masse in 1995, upgrading our computer systems to Pentium machines running Windows 95 - our old computer systems didn't go into the garbage, they were sold into the huge technological vacuum of the former Soviet Union.

    Who are the early adopters of technology? Kids of course! And Russia was no exception. Like a 16-year-old with a hot rod, the youths started souping up computers that we considered garbage. They got on to the internet using whatever they could, and once they connected to our information flows, they started teaching themselves programming. Because they were learning to program on outdated equipment, this forced them to become very, very good. There was no such thing as code bloat. Then you add 5 years to the calendar and what do you have? Little Ivan is no longer 15, he is 20 and has 5 years experience - and therein lies the rub - Ivan cannot go out and get a job in information technology, there is no economy to support his skill set. So, he goes about earning a living any way he can. I call it "N0 RUL3Z, JU5T WR1T3". Ivan sets about writing spam software, creating Trojan horses, worms... this is where we see the emergence of the botnet.

    Brazil wasn't far behind. In 2004-2005 we saw an uptick in the botnet wars arms race with Russia being one-upped by Brazil with the Beagle/Bagle, Mydoom and Sasser botnet pissing contest.

    There is a tide shift taking place. Putin has implemented a 12% flat tax which is bringing revenues flowing into the Russian economy for the first time in 15 years. They are reviving their legal system because they want to attract the Foreign Direct Investment dollars which will never come if they have no legal system which can enforce a legal contract. Along with the civil justice and FDI dollars, criminal justice must reign in corruption otherwise the FDI dollars will quickly disappear. So, Russia is growing out of the script kiddie phase and reemerging onto the world scene. Its good to have Mother Russia back.

    I could go on providing details of history and economics, but I will leave that for the book I'm writing. But I will pose this question for you to think about: What do you think the outcome of One Laptop Per Child will have on the future of cybercrime? If connectivity absent a legal system is the breeding ground for crime, what do you think will happen as the bottom billion in Africa gets online?

    Computer security is all about dealing with the unintended consequences. Every computer and every system that was ever built was first done to share information, not secure it. Security only came after we got everything connected, then had the collective "awww crap!" moment.

    Regards,
    Joel R. Helgeson

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

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