>New World of Business


If you read the techie news then you would have seen recently that there is a new hacker tool doing the rounds. It’s called Firesheep and it intercepts communications over public wireless networks, like the free wifi in cafes etc, to obtain cookies from sites you’ve visited such as email and facebook.

With a copy of this cookie it can then log back into the password protected site you have just visited.

The inventor is a typical computer guy who says he released it to expose the vulnerability of current websites, i.e. he had an altruistic motive for causing harm, in that the short term pain will lead to longer term gain and improvements.

No more than a few days later a piece of software that protects you from Firesheep, called Blacksheep, comes out as a fix.

Now here is the issue I want to discuss. It is in my mind that both pieces of software are made by the same guy. And if they are not, then they could easily have been.

Now this man has basically invented a problem to which he also has the solution. In effect his illegal act has created a market for his legal solution. Yet of course he won’t be prosecuted.

Now had he just released the solution then it would have gone un-noticed, but by causing some hysteria by releasing malicious code, he has gained a lot of free publicity, and then in a suspiciously timely manner, appeared with a solution.

And apparently there is no law against this.

So what would prevent other businesses taking the same approach ?

Can a biologist discover an anti-dote to a disease that doesn’t exist, and then release the disease enmasse in order to sell his anti-dote ?

Can a glazier help fuel french protest rallies in order to swell business the next day ?

I’m serious that the computer guy was not and will not be prosecuted, so with some discretion why can we not all play this game ?

obviously you can not set fires to peoples houses in order to sell fire insurance, but this is exactly what it seems like the computer guy has done.

Its not so much that he hasn’t been prosecuted, its more the idea that you can invent a problem. As the problem will be brand new, there may not be any laws specifically relating to this kind of detrimental invention. Then if you have the solution waiting straight after, you have effectively held the world to ransom and are a rich man.

One comment

  • >Surely there's a law against releasing the virus in the first place? If not there really should be!I did a quick search and it seems that although writing the virus is not illegal, it usually is to send it. This was on Wiki:"Accessing privately owned computer resources without the owner's permission counts as illegal under computer crime statutes in most nations. Deliberate spreading of computer viruses is also illegal in the United States and elsewhere. Thus, some common behaviors of spammers are criminal regardless of the legality of spamming per se. Even before the advent of laws specifically banning or regulating spamming, spammers were successfully prosecuted under computer fraud and abuse laws for wrongfully using others' computers."Now perhaps this 'computer guy' simply won't get done because he won't get caught? If that is so only the immorality of the act remains, and one can hope he feels guilt in later years as the cost of damage of what he did becomes apparent to him.You shouldn't presume they won't prosecute as it's often true that people find other ways to do so. For instance Al-Capone was in the end indicted for tax evasion. Wiki also had the following comment:"Other laws, not only those related to spam, have been used to prosecute alleged spammers. For example, Alan Ralsky was indicted on stock fraud charges in January 2008, and Robert Soloway plead guilty to charges of mail fraud, fraud in connection with electronic mail, and failing to file a tax return in March 2008."However I just found this site: http://www.itpro.co.uk/628438/firesheep-killer-blacksheep-launchedIt says that you can download Blacksheep for free so how is he getting money from it?

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