Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

‘FUTURE CRIMES: EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, EVERYONE IS VULNERABLE AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

What could go wrong with a garbage can that’s connected to the Internet?


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

One of the world’s leading authorities on global security, Marc Goodman takes listeners deep into the digital underground to expose the alarming ways criminals, corporations, and even countries are using new and emerging technologies against you – and how this makes everyone more vulnerable than ever imagined.
Technological advances have benefited our world in immeasurable ways, but there is an ominous flip side: Our technology can be turned against us. Hackers can activate baby monitors to spy on families, thieves are analyzing social media posts to plot home invasions, and stalkers are exploiting the GPS on smart phones to track their victims’ every move. We all know today’s criminals can steal identities, drain online bank accounts, and wipe out computer servers, but that’s just the beginning. To date, no computer has been created that could not be hacked – a sobering fact given our radical dependence on these machines for everything from our nation’s power grid to air traffic control to financial services.
Yet, as ubiquitous as technology seems today, just over the horizon is a tidal wave of scientific progress that will leave our heads spinning. If today’s Internet is the size of a golf ball, tomorrow’s will be the size of the sun. Welcome to the Internet of Things, a living, breathing, global information grid where every physical object will be online. But with greater connections come greater risks. Implantable medical devices such as pacemakers can be hacked to deliver a lethal jolt of electricity and a car’s brakes can be disabled at high speed from miles away. Meanwhile, 3-D printers can produce AK-47s, bioterrorists can download the recipe for Spanish flu, and cartels are using fleets of drones to ferry drugs across borders.
With explosive insights based upon a career in law enforcement and counterterrorism, Marc Goodman takes listeners on a vivid journey through the darkest recesses of the Internet.
©2015 Marc Goodman (P)2015 Randon House Audio


THE PLOT:

‘Future Crimes’ takes a critical look at the direction that technology is heading and how it could be used by hackers, unfriendly governments and organized crime to cause major problems on a global scale. As exemplified by the hacking of Wired reporter Mat Honan the fact is that the convenience we gain from linking Internet accounts together can come at a high price.
Marc Goodman tells the story of Honan’s hacking and gives other examples of how technology has been misused in the past, how it’s being misused in the present, and what that could mean for our future as technology continues to evolve and more and more things end up being connected to the Internet. Examples include: the Stuxnet worm, the death of Kenji Urada at the hands of a robot, and hackers using people’s own webcams to film them without their knowledge in an effort to extort them later.
You’ll go into the “digital underground” and see the dark side of the Internet, the things that you won’t find in a Google search. You’ll also discover things about how companies like Facebook and Google handle privacy (not well) and what could be done with all of your social media posts and uploaded photos without your knowledge. If that’s not enough, you’ll also make your way to “the Internet of things” and find out what potential hazards exist when everything from your refrigerator to your light bulbs are online.
While Goodman does talk a lot about things that could go wrong in the future, he repeatedly emphasizes that in most of these cases the technology already exists and is already being targeted by the criminal element. Think it is a good idea for a hospital to have all of your vital information stored on a network? What happens if a hacker breaks into the system and changes your blood type?
While there are a number of things that Goodman describes that are incredibly frightening, he is not negative on the future and advancing technology. The final two chapters of the book are Goodman’s proposals for how some of these problems can be avoided, and much of his advice is quite practical. Furthermore, the book’s appendix gives the listener several valuable tips for how they can safeguard their own material right now.
I read a lot of books on technology and where it is heading, big data and algorithms. So I hear about a lot of things on a pretty regular basis. I’m very familiar with Ray Kurzweil’s hypothesis of the singularity, as well as the father who discovered his daughter’s pregnancy through mail he received from Target. Even so, hearing about them again in the context of Goodman’s message was no less enlightening or thought-provoking. The author deserves a great deal of credit for giving listeners a new way to look at things, such as their Facebook accounts, that are already quite familiar.
There is just an impressive amount of information to be found in ‘Future Crimes’. The things I’ve mentioned barely scratch the surface and while I could go in to greater depth, I prefer to leave a lot for the reader to discover on their own.


THE AUTHOR:

Marc Goodman is a futurist and has a lengthy career in law enforcement and global security. This book is the culmination of his work in those fields. If I have one criticism of the book, it is that Goodman does fall in love with a few terms, and after awhile they can get repetitive.
Terms like “crime, inc.” and “crimeazon.com” are clever the first time but become less so the fifth or tenth time you hear them. Still, that’s a relatively minor thing that shouldn’t detract greatly from your overall enjoyment of the book.


THE NARRATION:

I always appreciate it when the author of the book reads the prologue, even if the rest of the book is read by a professional narrator. It helps to establish the author’s voice in the head of a listener. While there really isn’t anything wrong with Goodman’s narration, I do think that letting a pro handle the remainder of the book was the right call.
Robertson Dean has a very newscaster-like quality to his narration. It isn’t hard to imagine each chapter of the book being presented as segments on a TV news magazine like ‘Dateline’ or ’20/20′. There might not be anything flashy about the performance but it is consistent and steady throughout, and I was never bored with the narration.


THE PRODUCTION:

The track is all you could want and expect from a Random House Audio nonfiction track. The audio is crisp and clean with no glitches or changes in volume level. The chapter stops are in the most logical places, and there is no music or sound effects.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Predicting the future, especially the future of technology, can be a difficult task. In fact, the safest prediction that can be made about the future is that most predictions are going to be incorrect.
But even if Goodman misses on predicting one or two potential threats, he is still likely to be proven right more often than not. This is because many of the things he has predicted are simply extensions of things that have happened in the past or are happening right now. Goodman isn’t so much making a prediction for the future as he is laying out a scenario for what could happen if problems of the present continue to remain unaddressed.
If I read a better nonfiction book than this in 2015 I will be amazed. I recommend ‘Future Crimes’ to anyone who has an interest in technology, privacy, security or what difficult issues lie ahead for humanity. Frankly, I’d recommend parts of this book to anyone with a Facebook or Gmail account. In other words, practically everyone would find some aspect of ‘Future Crimes’ to be eye-opening.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We can Do About It Marc Goodman Robertson Dean, Marc Goodman Random House Audio True Crime 02/24/2015 20 hours, 9 minutes 9.75/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘FUTURE CRIMES: EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, EVERYONE IS VULNERABLE, AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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