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Home > Reviews > Crime Dot Com

Crime Dot Com

Author Geoff White

ISBN No 9781789142853

Review date 15/08/2022

No of pages 344

Publisher Reaktion

Publisher URL

Year of publication 10/09/2020


Our Review


£ 18.99, hardback

The journalist Geoff White was among the speakers at the annual cyber conference and exhibition, Black Hat Europe, in December 2019, which feels a long time ago. There his topic was 'on Hackers, Journalists and the Ethical Swamp'.

Briefly, he covered the 'ethical challenges' around whether to report or not a data leak arising from a hack - that is, a crime. He argued that there was a troubling grey area, between the public interest in revealing that a big name has suffered a data leak, the gain to the media outlet from leading on a 'good' story (good in terms of news controversy, not good for the victim), and doing the bidding of the hackers, who may seek to pressurise or embarrass the victim. White gave the example of the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in late 2014, which as he said has now been attributed by the US to the North Korean government.

"Of course, at the time it was far from clear who was behind it, but nonetheless you had a situation where journalists were being emailed directly with stolen information by unknown sources. They were spoon-fed a series of increasingly damaging leaks that, in hindsight, had been calculated to do maximum damage to the company."

As that snippet shows, White is alive to more than the nuts and bolts of cyber-crime; it's also about morals, and economics (entire countries, placed in the balance against the handful of big tech firms) and our everyday lives. While the subject has been well trodden - see the four books reviewed on the review page of the September 2020 print edition of Professional Security magazine - this substantial book is good value for money. And as you would hope from a journalist, it's well written.

As the sub-title to Crime Dot Com sets out, in about the last 20 years, more or less, the world has gone 'From Viruses to Vote Rigging', because hacking has gone global, not least because it's been embraced by some nation states. Data has a monetary value - it's, to use the cliche, the new oil; in fact the only thing that definitely isn't the new oil, is oil - and information, we are starting to learn uneasily, can sway votes. The internet is merely a medium, like the 19th century telegraph; as then, the tech can be used for evil besides good, whether to squirrel away stolen digital money (mere zeroes and ones) and send commands to power stations and utilities, to turn off the lights.


1 Meet the Hackers
2 Fall of the Berlin Firewall
3 Ocean’s 11 Dot Com
4 Digital Extortion
5 Your Data for Sale
6 Beyond the Dark Web
7 The Internet Hate Machine
8 Lights Out
9 Weaponizing Data
10 Hack the Vote