Monday, June 14, 2021

4734 Old Racket, New Twist

 Tools of the trade, both old and new.

 From our “Nothing New Under the Sun” Department: the protection racket.

 

Back in the day, local hoodlums and hooligans would prey on store owners.  Smash a window or start a fire.  Demand money to protect against window smashers and firebugs.

 

Conducting that kind of business is risky.  And it’s labor intensive.  Not only that, but this is the age of globalization and national retailers.

 

So the hoods and hooligans can’t try this at, say, Wal-Mart (most of them don’t have windows anyway) or Macy’s where you have to make appointments with district or regional managers if you want to sell anything -- even unbroken windows.  And whomever you need to see will always be “in a meeting” or “in the field.”

 

Today’s protection rackets are run from the basements of computer geeks holed up in mommy’s basement in Bulgaria.  Theft of service and ransomware attacks take no street hooligans. And a lot of the time mommy doesn’t even know what’s going on in her basement.

 

“Oh, my little son Stoyan. He’s only 43. Came to live at home and all he does is sit in the basement and play video games.” 

 

Well no, mama.  He’s not exactly playing video games. He’s collecting bitcoins and other cyber currency.  How do you think he can afford that Benz he drives and by the way, why is he behind in the rent?

 

The protection racket has gone international.  As far as we know the ransomware is always incoming and the bitcoins outgoing.  But then, if little Jimmy from Aniston, Alabama is in his mommy’s basement playing ransomware games, his mommy isn’t aware, and neither is the Associated Press nor Cyberbully Digest (dot-com?)

 

Through some accident of good luck, US officials figured out and stopped the ransomware attack that temporarily disabled the Colonial Pipeline and drove gasoline prices through the roof all up and down the eastern seaboard.  But that kind of good luck doesn’t come with every incident.

 

And the hackers are usually more advanced than the highly educated software engineers who put up websites they think they have safety tested but who can’t read their own coding.

 

So… criminality has come a long way since Izzy opened his bagel bakery in the Bronx and the locals came a-visiting with sledgehammers and cans of gasoline.

 

Advice to the hoods and hooligans of cyberspace: Buy a beater, not a Benz.  And pay the rent to mommy on time and in cash.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? Wes Richards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 Tools of the trade, both old and new.

 

From our “Nothing New Under the Sun” Department: the protection racket.

 

Back in the day, local hoodlums and hooligans would prey on store owners.  Smash a window or start a fire.  Demand money to protect against window smashers and firebugs.

 

Conducting that kind of business is risky.  And it’s labor intensive.  Not only that, but this is the age of globalization and national retailers.

 

So the hoods and hooligans can’t try this at, say, Wal-Mart (most of them don’t have windows anyway) or Macy’s where you have to make appointments with district or regional managers if you want to sell anything -- even unbroken windows.  And whomever you need to see will always be “in a meeting” or “in the field.”

 

Today’s protection rackets are run from the basements of computer geeks holed up in mommy’s basement in Bulgaria.  Theft of service and ransomware attacks take no street hooligans. And a lot of the time mommy doesn’t even know what’s going on in her basement.

 

“Oh, my little son Stoyan. He’s only 43. Came to live at home and all he does is sit in the basement and play video games.” 

 

Well no, mama.  He’s not exactly playing video games. He’s collecting bitcoins and other cyber currency.  How do you think he can afford that Benz he drives and by the way, why is he behind in the rent?

 

The protection racket has gone international.  As far as we know the ransomware is always incoming and the bitcoins outgoing.  But then, if little Jimmy from Aniston, Alabama is in his mommy’s basement playing ransomware games, his mommy isn’t aware, and neither is the Associated Press nor Cyberbully Digest (dot-com?)

 

Through some accident of good luck, US officials figured out and stopped the ransomware attack that temporarily disabled the Colonial Pipeline and drove gasoline prices through the roof all up and down the eastern seaboard.  But that kind of good luck doesn’t come with every incident.

 

And the hackers are usually more advanced than the highly educated software engineers who put up websites they think they have safety tested but who can’t read their own coding.

 

So… criminality has come a long way since Izzy opened his bagel bakery in the Bronx and the locals came a-visiting with sledgehammers and cans of gasoline.

 

Advice to the hoods and hooligans of cyberspace: Buy a beater, not a Benz.  And pay the rent to mommy on time and in cash.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? Wes Richards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


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