Anyone with a technically minded older relative who is happy to recall the “golden age” of the automobile is likely to dwell for a moment on a certain train of thought.
Today’s cars are large computers, designed to be mechanically inaccessible to the average Joe. Older people, unlike their predecessors, often require specialized tools for repairs, argue, adding that today’s vehicles aren’t built as well as they used to be.
Whether one agrees with these points is an individual matter, but it’s hard to say that in the face of increasing technology, average motorists are now less likely than ever to tackle even an essential oil change, once the simplest of maintenance tasks.
In many respects, the same can be said of today’s consumer computing environments.
Enthusiasts from yesteryear had to be well-versed in languages like MS-DOS or BASIC just to get by, which helped them understand a lot about how their machines actually worked. Today’s graphical interfaces have removed all of these barriers to entry, which means that there are now millions of people who classify clicking icons as the pinnacle of the “programming” experience.
For the average hacker today, this might be a ticking time bomb.
This week, Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director of MPA Europe, published an interesting report piece Titled “Hacking Went From Geeky to Easy. What’s Next?”
“[W]McCoy writes: While decision makers innovate, so do they.
“In the past 15 years, hacking has gone from geeky to easy. Transfer technologies have improved with the advent of streaming, and delivery via apps and new devices has bridged the gap between the computer and the living room.
“Today’s piracy has become a very different kind of organized crime: far more sophisticated, technologically dense, highly devious, and massive. ..
McCoy’s argument goes as follows;
Hacking was once the realm of the tech-minded, but with the evolution of technologies – pirated streaming websites, Kodi add-ons, custom apps, IPTV – it has become very easy and more accessible to the masses. However, with many anti-piracy initiatives underway, hacking is more easily broken.
Add-ons suddenly fail, app creators and tools “mysteriously” disappear, and IPTV platforms are becoming less reliable. In the new and somewhat diluted world of hacking, access can be stopped in an instant, sometimes by hitting just one component in the system.
At this point, more experienced hackers will argue that none of this is a problem for them. Add-ons can be reconfigured, new sites pop up to replace the latest new app makers, patches plugged in, and so on. Which, in general, is correct. However, for the less informed, these things are much more than a headache.
The occasional hacker—the friend or colleague who bought a “loaded Firestick” off Craigslist or eBay—makes up a large percentage of today’s hacking crowd. And the vast majority have no clue how anything really works. Citing McCoy, “95 percent of TV piracy is driven by a purpose-built set-top box.”
Of course, this does not mean that 100% of these funds are owned by the tech illiterate, far from it. However, it seems very likely that the screaming majority have no idea how their devices work, or what to do when everything goes wrong. The “blame” for this can be placed squarely on the feet of technology and the plug-and-play culture.
As hacking has become more sophisticated, partly due to evolution and partly due to anti-piracy measures, a lot of brain power has become entrenched behind the scenes. Like people who fix modern cars with a laptop and “black magic” cable, many hackers rely entirely on the magic of a small minority to get them out of a jam.
In other words, Joe Public’s ability to perform the equivalent of a simple oil change is lost, largely due to pirated content being served to them as a sophisticated pre-cooked meal on a plate, made using a recipe few know. about or even cares to understand.
To some extent, hacking has always been that way. In general, the brains have always been at the top while those at the bottom take what’s available. However, today’s proliferation of “click and collect” apps and services means that few are motivated to learn anything technical while those who do can run into problems.
Thanks to piracy sites and apps being demoted and removed from search results (sometimes after a lawsuit), combined with the opportunism of malicious minds, it’s now more difficult than ever for a novice to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“Try looking for search engine alternatives, and you’re more likely than ever to come across malware and clickbait sites pretending to be hacked. Do you feel lucky?” McCoy asked this week.
While the most technically advanced will dismiss the above paragraph as scare tactics, McCoy’s comments could be true to the average user. It has become a minefield out there for the uninitiated, and unless people take the time to study and do their own research, bad things always have the potential to happen.
It will likely take several years for the piracy “brain drain” to show its full effects, but the popularity and ease of today’s ultra-simple, feature-rich hacking apps and services could end up as a positive for entertainment companies.
Will the casual hacking masses spend days, months, or years learning how to do hacking the “old school” way when things are going pear-shaped, or shove a few bucks a month into a couple of legal services and get a headache and be done with it?
As always, time will tell.