Guest post by Edward Freeland, author of “Adapt”.
The book Adapt has three antagonistic realms, cyber bullying/ratting, monstering from the media and psychology within the mental health system. For the mental health system, Alan Watts gives a wonderfully enlightening talk called “the value of psychotic experience” that can be accessed on Youtube, it really covers some of the dangers highlighted in the book. Monstering from the media is also covered most thoroughly in the revealing factual book Hack Attack. In this guest post I’m going to discuss the cyber bullying/ratting.
May 2014, 17 people in the UK, both male and female, and almost 100 people across Europe arrested on charges of hacking in a sweep investigation. In common between all the charges was the use of a RAT. Remote Access Trojans or Remote Administration Tools are commonly used to gain control remotely over someone’ s computer webcam, files, microphone as well as smart phone cameras and microphones. It is known as Ratting. The RAT that the arrested were using was Blackshades, that could be purchased online for £100. The most commonly used RAT, that has been allegedly used against informants in the Middle East. There are many other ways to hack of which some are impossible to trace but Blackshades is most wide spread.
RATs are widely used in a variety of ways, some less sinister than others, but across the board bullying tends to be the trend. Online at places like Hackforums.net, individuals trade and sell access to people’s computers. Ratted computers are known as slaves among the ratting community. Anyone with a smart phone is a potential target. Being careful online will help protect against being a victim but US and UK law is not in a position to help actual victims. To quote an author of a US policy paper on issues involving RATs, “The federal government should clarify the definition of interception under the Privacy Act and reconsider the damages requirement for private claims in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in light of the often non-economic nature of privacy harms. A victims suffering is often not financial but emotional”. This is an extremely good point, and in the case of Daniel (the protagonist of Adapt), it not only was emotional it effected his life in many real and physical ways like a gathering snowball effect which long term would become a financial burden too.
Recently Apple was involved in a court case whereby it objected to eleven orders issued by US district courts to use its existing capabilities to extract data from locked Iphones. This also reflects the Edward Snowden case and begs the question, “if the government and technology companies can access data on an individual, who else can? And is there a difference?” I think yes, there is a difference. As Orwellian as it may seem I don’t think the government snooping is as worrying as people may initially think, and with terrorism likely to increase according to security analysts I can see the need for data gathering. But to play devil’s advocate, should the government not put laws in place to protect victims of unlawful data stealing (videos, pictures, messages, conversations etc) by those with malicious intent.
I believe the government should do so, if they are going to gather data themselves, essentially to protect people, they should also protect people from criminals gathering data, even if no money is stolen.
My name is Edward Freeland, I grew up in London, but have lived in Norfolk for the past few years. I have worked many different jobs. I have always had a keen interest in history, and the underlying factors in human behavior has always fascinated me, as the same patterns occur through ancient, medieval and modern history. Science also intrigues me, so, in 2009 I completed two introductory, Open University short courses in quantum physics and astronomy. These fueled my already keen (thanks to a childhood watching the night sky with my family) desire to understand why we are here, and what the purpose of our reality is. Realizing that these answers will most surely never be answered in my lifetime, I now see every individual person’s reality as something miraculous, and that their purpose, is what they make it, and how others enrich it. I began writing in 2013, with the desire to explore some of these life themes that I find so engaging. I completed Adapt later that year, the first novel I have attempted, and have a new appreciation for the difficulty of knitting words together to create a piece of literature. My previous experience of writing, was penning songs in my teenage years. I find inspiration in different forms and areas of life, but music was certainly a mainstay during the writing process, particularly in breaks from the pen and paper.
And you may read my review of Edward’s new book Adapt here plus your chance to win a copy.