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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Twenty-Two: Leaks Are Forever: Information Security and Cybercrime (Peter A. H. Peterson / Charern Lee)


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Leaks Are Forever

Information Security and Cybercrime


In 1984, Stewart Brand, author and Hacker’s Conference organizer, famously said “Information wants to be free” because sharing it is so easy in the Information Age (Levy, 2014). In the same breath, he also said “information wants to be expensive” because the right information in the right circumstance is so powerful. However, this power is not always positive, especially when information is shared in ways that we don’t want.

Approximately 59 records are stolen every second—five million records every day, and nearly two billion records every year (Gemalto, 2017). Unfortunately, once shared or stolen, information can never be “unshared.” At the same time, critical flaws appear every day in our computing technologies, even though people have worked for decades to improve computer security. It sometimes seems that the nature of digital information is to be insecure. As such, Brand’s phrase was extended at the RSA Security conference in 2008 to: “Information wants to be free—and code wants to be wrong.” This combination left unchecked is not good news for your security and privacy.

Information security is a metaphorical contact sport between intelligent adversaries working to attack and defend systems. Behind every attack is a human looking for the path of least resistance through defenses. In this asymmetric battle, the attackers only need to succeed once,...

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