New Book: The Mind of a Hacker

I have a new book coming out in February. It’s about piracy.

The Mind of a Hacker: How the Mighty Bend Society Rules and How to Roll Them Back does not relate to the hacking of computer systems; it is about hacking into larger economic, political and social systems. He generalizes the term To hack as a way to overturn the rules of a system unintentionally.

What types of system? Any rule system, really. Take the tax code, for example. It’s not computer code, but it’s a series of algorithms – supposedly deterministic – that take a bunch of inputs from your income and produce an output which is the amount of money you owe. This code has vulnerabilities; we call them loopholes. He has exploits; these are tax avoidance strategies. And there’s a whole industry of black-hat hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in the tax code: we call them accountants and tax specialists.

In my view, a “hack” is something that a system allows, but is unintended and undesirable by its designers. It’s unforeseen: an error in the design or coding of the system. This is subversion, or exploitation. It’s a cheat, but only in a way. Just as a computer vulnerability can be exploited on the Internet because the code allows it, a tax loophole is “allowed” by the system because it follows the rules, even though it may subvert the intent of those rules.

Once you start thinking about hacking in this way, you’ll start seeing hacks everywhere. You can find hacks in professional sports, in customer reward programs, in financial systems, in politics; in many economic, political and social systems; against our cognitive functions. A curved hockey stick is a hack, and we know the name of the hacker who invented it. Airline mileage runs are a hack. The buccaneer was originally a hack, invented by Cato the Younger, a Roman senator in 60 BCE. Hedge funds are full of hacks.

A system is just a set of rules. Or standards, since the “rules” are not always formal. And even the best-thought-out sets of rules will be incomplete or inconsistent. There will be ambiguities and things the designers haven’t thought of. As long as there are people who want to subvert the goals of a system, there will be hacks.

I use this framework in The mind of a hacker to uncover much of the reason why today’s economic, political, and social systems leave us so poorly, and to apply what we’ve learned about defenses against hacking in the computer world to these more general hacks. And I end by looking at artificial intelligence, and what will happen when AIs start hacking. Not the AI ​​hacking issues, which are both ubiquitous and super weird, but what happens when an AI is able to discover new hacks against these more general systems. What happens when RNs find tax loopholes or loopholes in financial regulation. We have systems in place to deal with these types of hacks, but they were invented when hackers were human and reflect the human pace of hack discovery. They won’t be able to resist an AI finding dozens, if not hundreds, of loopholes in financial regulation. We are simply not ready for the speed, scale, reach and sophistication of AI hackers.

The mind of a hacker is my pandemic book, written in 2020 and 2021. It represents another step in my continuing journey of growing generalizations. And I really like the cover. It will be released on February 7. It’s a great belated holiday gift. Order yours today and avoid the rush.

*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Schneier on safety Written by Bruce Schneier. Read the original post at:

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