Next, John examines the increasingly fraught issue of piracy in the entertainment industry. Tracking and blocking rogue websites that make a living of online piracy is problematic, as any ensuing investigation must infringe also on individual privacy. Add to this the fact that most hackers genuinely believe that data on the internet must be free to share, and the issue develops complexities that people are only now beginning to recognise.
When the founder of the web’s largest peer-to-peer sharing platform, KickAss Torrents’ Artem Vaulin was arrested, a petition to free him began online and stated that the Freedom to Share was a basic human right. Such incidents highlight the problems with policing cybercrime in an anonymous, borderless virtual world in which proxies make it complicated to follow a trail online. Also, laws differ widely across borders — what might be sedition in one country could be free speech in another. Watching pornography and buying weed are two more examples of acts that are differently viewed in different countries.
Consequently, Breach offers some interesting takeaways. First, our complete dependence on external technologies and platforms leaves Indians especially vulnerable to external snooping. The only way out is to become technologically innovative rather than consumers of imported technology.
Second, John highlights the need for specific and intensive training of the police in India to deal with cyber fraud and data theft.
Third, while India has one of the most active bounty-hunting hacker communities in the world who are hired by international players to detect flaws in their databases, this trend hasn’t quite caught on in India.
Indian corporations, even banks, have a long way to go before they proactively protect their data. If, as the author writes, KPMG’s leader of cyber security practice could become a victim of cyber theft, nobody is safe. Not surprisingly, John places the issue of data safety in the context of the Aadhaar database. Indians, he avers, do not understand the concept and ramifications of online privacy.
Neither do we truly understand how crippling a cyberterrorist attack could be. Most significantly, he calls out the conspiracy of silence in the government as well as corporate boardrooms that has surrounded cases of data theft and cybercrime. As long as these data breaches are brushed under the carpet, a comprehensive national strategy on data protection will not be able to evolve.
Indian corporations, even banks, have a long way to go before they proactively protect their data
Although Breach does a great job of making the reader doublethink every online transaction s/he contemplates, it disappoints by not offering more suggestions on how individuals might protect themselves online. Still, it is a rivetingly informative read, not only for companies and policymakers, but also for the average individual who likes to shop or bank online. It is also a peek into the dark new world that exists behind our clean, anonymous computers and smartphones — a Frankenstein we have created, but simply don’t know enough about yet.