The Sony hack is probably a lead indicator that many more similar hacks will occur in the near future, not all of them involving the theft of items like credit card numbers.
IT and security in general tend to be low priorities at most companies. Normal users just assume that their communications are reasonably secure, even when they’re being transmitted in the clear, and can be intercepted by anyone with the desire to do so.
Computers are, in general, more powerful than the people who use them quite understand. We’ve put supercomputers into the hands of people who have no idea how they work (and I increasingly have to put myself in this category), and unsurprisingly, those same people wind up shocked when more savvy people gain access to their machines without their permission.
The financial system is especially vulnerable to hackers, and has been repeatedly targeted, in part because all that’s necessary to authorize a financial transaction is a series of numbers along with some associated text information, a lot of which can be grabbed from publicly accessible sources.
This, and some other recent events, lead me to conclude that the internet has expanded beyond the ability of the network users to secure it.
Whenever this happens, criminals force a correction, and then the focus of productive actors must be to re-secure the network. This notably occurred during the bursting of the first internet bubble, as security concerns demolished the credibility of banner advertisements. Only the developers at Google were able to credibly tackle the click fraud problem, and make the internet industry more credible to investors again.
This time, it’s more likely to be the alternative financial system, represented by Bitcoin, which takes the pro-security position. My argument used to be similar to Moldbug’s (it’s actually, I think, what introduced me to Moldbug properly), in that I thought the US government would just kill everyone that it has to kill, and jail the rest, to prevent the growth in cryptocurrency.
Because the US has failed to kill, torture, and imprison with as much aggression as it would need to in order to prevent the growth of cryptocurrency, my conclusion also has to change: it must be the new growth area, because the US lacks the cold-bloodedness and tenacity that it would otherwise need in order to keep its system together.
If I were them, I would kill (physically shoot) every bitcoin user that I could find. Because they’re either stupid or corrupt, they’re not doing this, and because they’re not doing this, they’ve signed a death warrant for their employers. Fine with me.
This post should have included a hat-tip to Nick Szabo’s recent post on the topic of trustless computing.