thinking of new crimes

I suspect that this blog posting, might seem strangely prophetic in a few years time. If you were a really smart hacker, you would seek to make your money from activities that might not even be criminal.

I'll pitch a few scenarios;
google ranking - say you could find a magic piece of code to insert in someone's webpage that automatically pushed it up the rankings, into the top three or four results, the ones that people actually looked at. Maybe you worked in google and put this facility into their code, maybe you analysed successful pages and through brute force found some way of mimicing the sites that they rate highly, maybe you worked out some software hack that created a recursive loop that bumped up prominence through little known features within DSL and ISP.

If you could do that, then you could name your price. Obviously you would not want to flood the market, but the savvy hacker could live very well on such knowledge.

share picking - maybe you could find some way to pick shares, some thing you could track that would give some insight, for example tracking web traffic in advance of published sales figures. Something that gave you an insight, or even just a little advance notice of turnover and profits just that little bit before everyone else knew.

distorting web 2.0 - maybe you could find some form of social marketting on the web, perhaps using cheap overseas labour to post favourable reviews, to boost site traffic, to create a buzz and drive traffic to one site or away from another. Web 2.0 makes us aware of music and books we did not know we wanted, the capacity to channel that where you want must be worth money.

The internet is relatively new, and the rapid monetization of the web is even newer. People, regulators, governments, we really have not yet got our head round the fact that there is an awful lot money to be made in cyberspace, and that there might be ways to do this that we feel are unacceptable.

The pre-monetized internet was largely self policing, and the fact that people might make a living from it, seemed absurd.

But now, there is the scope to use brute force computer analysis, insiders hacking key net infrastructure, or even shed loads of chinese, to make the internet focus its fickle attention the way that we want it to. The web is uniquely vulnerable to this because it is different from other media. It relies on unmoderated opinions, the opinions of people that opt in to give their opinion. Such a model cannot easily be hacked by one person, but as spam shows, with a little technical know how, or cheap labour, it is possible to achieve influence levered way beyond the scope of your initial input.

Is it even possible to regulate such behaviour?
Would policing such behaviour destroy the very accessibility that attracts us?

Maybe it is time that we started to think about how we could police the internet, learning from sites like wikipedia where it does work.