This blog is about the downside of exponential technology: digital crime.

Normally, I choose to focus on the immensely positive impact technology has on humanity – the Abundance mindset.

The truth is: exponential technologies also bring about the potential for exponential crimes.

Recently I spoke with Marc Goodman, Futurist for the FBI, 10-year veteran with Interpol and SU faculty member, about his new book Future Crimes. (Subtitle: Everything is Connected; Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It.)

The goal of this blog is to educate you and help you protect yourself against the growing risk of cyber crime in this digital age.

Let’s begin.

Criminals are exponential entrepreneurs too…

Exponential technologies allow for exponential crimes.

Historically, one person could only rob one person at any given time. Today one person can rob millions in an instant.

Just this week a joint taskforce from INTERPOL, Europol and Kaspersky Lab reported that a group of cybercriminals dubbed “Carbanak” has stolen upwards of $1 billion from banks all over the world.

A joint study between the University of Tel Aviv and National University of Singapore estimates that businesses around the world have spent $500 billion recovering from data breaches and malware-related problems.

As more of our devices become connected to the Internet, we are more vulnerable than ever.

Samsung, for example, recently came under public scrutiny when it was disclosed that their new TV’s voice command system is recording every conversation and sending the data to a third party to parse and analyze. Headlines announced, “your TV is spying on you in the privacy of your living room.”

6D’s Applied to Crime

We don’t often think about crime advancing exponentially, but the Future Crimes also benefit from the 6D’s framework: Digitization, Deceptive to Disruptive, Dematerialization, Demonetization, and Democratization.

Here are some examples.

Digitization: Between 2011 and 2013, Silk Road digitized the black market and did $1.2 billion of business as a platform for illegal substances and services, among other things. Most impressive, they were transacting in the anonymous, decentralized, untraceable cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Deceptive to Disruptive: A decade ago, stories of cyber-attacks and cyber-theft was a rare occurrence. Today it’s in the news every day. The US Navy sees 11,000 cyber-attacks every hour, or more than 30 every single second. More than 600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised every day.

Dematerialization: It used to take guns, get-away cars and large-scale operations to successfully pull off crimes. Last month, a drone crashed into a Mexican supermarket just next to the California border. It was carrying over 6 pounds of methamphetamine. For every unsuccessful drone, there are likely hundreds that succeed.

Demonetization: 3D Printing is demonetizing firearms. The first 3D printed gun was designed by a student at the University of Texas and printed in 2013. Called “the Liberator”, the gun can be printed overnight for pennies. Rather than purchasing guns or the licenses needed to operate them, anybody with access to a 3D printer and the Internet can “print” them for free.

Democratization: Vulnerable democratizing communication platforms like Twitter, where millions voice their opinions and share news, can give enormous influence to cyber criminals and terrorists. In 2013, the Associated Press’ Twitter was hacked by a Syrian terrorist organization. They posted a fake tweet about an attack at the White House that had injured the president. In 3 minutes, the trading algorithms that monitor news agencies had cut the market cap by $360 billion. Other terrorist organizations often use social media to recruit new members and execute sophisticated attacks at scale.

Protecting Yourself: The “UPDATE” Protocol

Marc’s book is filled with super-high quality advice to help you protect yourselves from attack.

Here are the top items for you to remember, using the acronym UPDATE.

Update: Update your software automatically so that you are protected. If the developer is offering an update, it is because your version has bugs, which means you are vulnerable. Updating automatically makes sure you are taken care of without having to think about it.

Password: Make sure your password is uppercase and lowercase and includes numbers and symbols. Most importantly, don’t repeat passwords across multiple accounts. Be careful with downloading a password manager, as some are fraudulent. Marc suggests not using a single sign-on like Facebook, because if it is cracked, you are wide open.

Download: With downloading, free is the most expensive. Be very cautious of programs offered for free and only download from official sites.

Administrative Privilege: Don’t log on to your computer as the administrator. Logging on as a user means that if a big change is being made, it will prompt you with your login. This is a good preventative measure to protect against malware.

Turn Off: Shut down your computer while you’re asleep and you cut the time that you can be attacked in by one-third. Also turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you can: the more ports that are open, the more vulnerable you are.

Encryption: Use programs like Filevault to completely encrypt your computer. Also use a VPN (virtual private network) if you can. Have a password on your phone to encrypt data behind the security wall.

Marc also offered 1 additional warning:

Cover the camera on your computer. When you aren’t using it, hackers can log it and gain access to your camera. Scariest of all – the green indicator light won’t light up. Marc recommends covering the camera with tape when you’re not using it.

We’ve only just skimmed the surface

These are really only a few fascinating and scary examples about the future of crime.

There is much, much more you need to know.

If you want to learn more about the future of crime and what we can do about it, I would really encourage you to pick up a copy of Marc’s book Future Crimes.

In my new book BOLD, I also write about the many challenges we will face and tools we must employ in the exponential days ahead. Grab your copy here. If you’ve purchased a copy of BOLD, I’d love it if you could share a review here.

[image credit: Yuri Samoilov/Flickr]

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Dr. Peter Diamandis was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

He is Executive Founder of Singularity University, a Silicon Valley institution that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies.

He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive co...

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