inside the man

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Feed the worms who write worms to the worms - The economic logic of executing computer hackers

Steven E. Landsburg supplies us with another darkly humorous link today. Landsburg carries out an interesting theoretical exercise, comparing the value of executing murders to the value of executing malware authors in purely economic terms.

One aspect of this discussion that Landsburg does not touch upon is the theory, influenced by biological immunology, that computer vandalism such as writing an Internet worm contributes positively to the Internet's collective resistance to more targeted forms of computer crime, hacking into personal computers in order to perform fraudulent online banking transactions, for example. How could we measure the positive economic value of malware authoring in terms of it's net impact (if any) on reducing the net impact of computer crime? While this question will likely remain unanswered, I doubt we will identify a prosocial angle on murder.

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Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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