The intrigue of the grizzled anti-hero caricatured in film noir seems to have passed from the tough-talking, fedora-wearing, revolver-toting private investigator to the IRC-chatting, unwaveringly-unfashionable, laptop-toting computer geek.
There will always be a place for drug-dealing junkies / kingpins and psychotic outbursts, but cybercrime is the insanely feasible get-rich-quick ticket to intrigue which can grant a criminal mastermind god-like powers over commerce, military, and government.
The heat in Max Butler’s safe house was nearly unbearable. It was the equipment’s fault. Butler had crammed several servers and laptops into the studio apartment high above San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and the mass of processors and displays produced a swelter that pulsed through the room. Butler brought in some fans, but they didn’t provide much relief. The electric bill was so high that the apartment manager suspected Butler of operating a hydroponic dope farm.
But if Butler was going to control the online underworld, he was going to have to take the heat. For nearly two decades, he had honed his skills as a hacker. He had swiped free calls from local telephone companies and sneaked onto the machines of the US Air Force. Now, in August 2006, he was about to pull off his most audacious gambit yet, taking over the online black markets where cybercriminals bought and sold everything from stolen identities to counterfeiting equipment. Together, these sites accounted for millions of dollars in commerce every year, and Butler had a plan to take control of it all.
- One Hacker’s Audacious Plan to Rule the Black Market in Stolen Credit Cards by Kevin Poulsen at Wired.com
War Games may have kicked things off optimistically enough for the cybercrime genre, but the reality of cybercrime is far grittier and throws longer shadows than anything film noir ever imagined… if you would prefer not to await the movie incarnation, check out some recent events.