Ironically, given that yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day, the other kind of pirates have been busy. Hacktivists have been targeting recording industry websites in revenge for legal action against the Pirate Bay, with the British Phonographic Industry next in their sights. Regardless of your views on file sharing and downloading music, it’s another example of how popular cyber attacks are beoming as a means of protest.
The history of hacking is more complex than this, with its roots in the counterculture and about a million different hats a hacker can wear; it’s a fascinating story, and I’d recommend Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker Crackdown (which is available for free online). Then again, there’s a growing threat from co-ordinated cyber-attacks – Operation Aurora, for instance, which targeted companies such as Google, and seems to have emanated from China and gave rise to the ironic phrase "Illegal Flower Tribute" (and the Great Firewall of China seems to be a catalyst for a lot of stuff like this, such as the GhostNet and Titan Rain).
I guess there’s an argument to say that, if this is the future of warfare then it’s not so bad – at least people aren’t getting killed. However, as we become more networked, that’s not going to be a given. It’s going to be interesting – and somewhat scary – to see how this develops….