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Making Computer Crime Sexy

Our Science of Hollywood columnist looks at cybercrime in the movies and in real life

4 min read

Last spring, the teachers, students, and workers at the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union received an email that seemed routine enough: Because of a problem in the electronic banking system, customers needed to verify their account information. After clicking a link, they were taken to a page with the bank’s logo where they were instructed to enter their personal identification numbers.

Unbeknownst to the 20 victims, however, their financial details were not going back to the campus, they were zipping to South Korea, where they would be used to create pirate debit cards. The only hint of a scam was tucked away in the site’s Web address, which read ”http” instead of the usual ”https,” designating a secure site. The Wildcats had just been phished . And they’re not alone. Phishing, social and technical engineering aimed at hustling surfers’ personal data, is an insidious form of identity theft that’s on the rise. According to a report by IBM, phishing attacks hit an all-time high, rising by 226 percent in 2005. The Federal Trade Commission receives nearly 200 000 reports of phishing attacks every year.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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