Attribution is hard: the incredible skullduggery used to try to blame the 2018 Olympic cyberattack on North Korea

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Things are smaller in real life…



For whatever reason, I have been reminded several times in the last couple of days how everyone treats actions in cyberspace as “not real”, even if the consequences are absolutely real.

If Russia had plain old bombed South Korea, that would not be an obscure story buried in Wired magazine, it’d be headline news as an act of war. When some turd doxxes or rape-threatens or even swats someone, our reaction is often “oh well, that’s the internet for you!”, even though doing the exact same things by analog means would rightly be treated as an urgent crime leading to jail time and ostracism by your family.

I don’t really get it. Is this the settled consensus now, that if someone uses a computer to do a crime, we just ignore it for no obvious reason?


Riding with your SK analogy, I’d say 1) the world – yes – would react strongly to Russia bombing South Korea, but not as much to, say, mass murders and ethnic cleansing in other areas of the world (as the past few decades have shown); and 2) consciously or otherwise, people have drawn a distinction between bodies (that they can sympathize with) and bytes, and how they would react. Breaking (2) down further, news of Company/Bank A’s accounts being hacked may not indicate anything to a customer of Company/Bank B other than some vaguely sensed, reinforcing ‘proof’ that bad things happen to other people. I see it all as (for some people) kind of boiling down to “how does it affect me, on practical and personal levels”.

Overload is leading to normalization and numbness. Perhaps some sustained ‘peak’ overload (or ‘major’ event, ex: a world famous actor being swatted) will break people out of their somnambulism.

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This reminds me of a question I asked a computer sales guy some time ago, Why, when so many people just use basic email tools, is spam and malware still so common? Are we really so helpless in the face of these script kiddies?

His answer, I think, applies to your question as well. The nerds who run the internet prefer setups optimized for versatility and adaptability, not safety. If things were battened down to make it safe for JohnQ Public to just use their email reliably, then there wouldnt be as much fun left in the system for the boffins to experiment.

This would just as easily explain why the financial world is resistant to the concept of money as a utility, because it gives them less power to hack with it.

When survival depends on it, we will eventually get this sorted… either that, or we will go down in flames.


The linked article is a great read. I’m going to have to buy the book.

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