Hacking, ethics and consequences

I have recently read two excellent books which brought home to me the way hacking and its related activity does now affect us, and will continue to affect us all in the near future and beyond.

The first book is called The Passengers and was written by John Marrs. It is set in the near future when driverless cars are becoming the standard although there are still those diehards who insist of taking control of their vehicle. Marrs sets the scene in a secretive court where the collisions between driverless vehicles and other vehicles and people (where there has been a serious injury or death) are reviewed with “blame” being apportioned appropriately or otherwise.

It raises some very interesting and pertinent questions that we are all going to have to face very soon if these events involving driverless vehicles are going to be handled appropriately and it also has some interesting insights into how other personal information might be used! I won’t spoil the book by saying much more but, if you are interested in the ethics, the practicalities or the security risks of vehicles then this book is a definite must-read!

The second book is called Kill Process and was written by William Hertling. It is in fact the first of a series I have yet to read but, if this one is anything to go by, I could be reading the rest very soon! This book is set in the current world and highlights a lady software engineer concerned about the security of systems on which she is working. She is clearly very good at what she does but it then slowly becomes apparent that there is another side to her – a very destructive side. She has suffered in a violent abusive relationship which she has now escaped (one way or another!) but she is now actively seeking out other women in similar types of abusive relationships and “helping them” to escape.

The most fascinating part of this book for me was the way the technical details of what she did are explained. I am no techie, I was once but far too many years ago to be called that now, and I have to admit at times I lost the technical details of what this lady was doing. Nevertheless, it was fascinating and it raised several questions:

  • about whether the activities the author describes her as doing are really feasible (I had to assume they are, by and large);
  • the ethics of what she was doing – her motive was clearly good but there is always a second angle on such situations;
  • my feelings towards what she was doing – should I be impressed, appalled, astounded, amused or what?

The book goes on to describe this lady setting up what is clearly intended to be a competitor to the big names such as Google, Microsoft and Apple and that too makes the book fascinating, but there is always the thread of ethics running alongside, together with the other work she undertakes.

I would strongly recommend both of these books to you if you have any interest in the technicalities of hacking, of information hoovering and usage, and of the ethics of the activities that are today, without doubt, being carried out by organisations large and small for their own, sometimes nefarious, aims and objectives.

I think that when you have read them, you might well, like me, have a slightly different view on the world of hacking in all its glory!

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About Author: Andy Taylor

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