Automated Crime: Scripting Blackmail

Increasingly innovative computer scripts are being created that automate entire criminal processes—processes that, in the past, used to require human intervention.  Don’t like your boss?  Threaten to tell his wife about the affair with his secretary unless he pays you to keep quiet.  The problem was that your boss knew it was you who was blackmailing him, opening the blackmailer to potential negative consequences.  Now, however, thanks to the miracle of technology, no need for a human being to become involved in such a dirty and murky affairs.  The entire process can be scripted and automated.


Not only can you extort your boss via a scripted attack, but as the entire process is automated, you can blackmail other people’s bosses halfway around the world as well.  Crime automation allows transnational organized crime groups to gain the same efficiencies and cost savings that multinational corporations obtained by leveraging technology to carry out core business functions.

As revenue generation via crime commission is the core competency of any organized crime group, automating the process can yield impressive returns.  Of course for those victimized by these newly realized efficiencies, the process is less a cause for celebration than it is for concern.

In the case below, a clever Trojan writer has used the popularity of a particular Anime game in Japan to extort small sums of money from victims by publishing their web surfing history online for inspection by the general public.  The game in question was of the “Hentai” (変態 or へんたい) genre—a type of Anime that often shows violent pornographic images depicting young girls in a variety of sexual circumstances.

The trojan would publish the name of the individuals who were downloading the images, as well as screen captures of what the individuals had been viewing.  Naturally, many would not want their web history exposed in this manner and as such the criminals are able to demand money to take down the user’s identifying information.  A clever little trick and yet another step forward in the march towards fully automated criminality in the 21st century.

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