Student, professor to launch book on cyber threats
Emma Borne | Monday, April 7, 2014
Anthropology professor Carolyn Nordstrom and senior Lisa Carlson launch their book “Cyber Shadows: Power, Crime, and Hacking Everyone” on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.
Nordstrom said the book focuses on emergent threats in the digital world, especially hacking. She said she first started to learn about hacking from her personal experience of being hacked four years ago.
“People knew so little about [hacking],” Nordstrom said. “The head of the Office of Information Technology said, ‘Start going to hacking conferences and learn about it,’ and this was essentially to find out what was going on with me, but I didn’t intend to write a book on it.”
Then, a twelve-year-old boy sparked the desire to write a book, Nordstrom said.
She talked to the boy in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and she said his extensive knowledge and nonchalant attitude about hacking inspired her.
Nordstrom said she proceeded to pull out her phone and text Carlson, who was the last student who came to her office asking to work with her on research.
“I had not ever seen a piece of her writing nor had ever had her in class,” Nordstrom said. “[I asked myself], ‘What if I take an average Notre Dame student and said we’re going write a book together?’”
Nordstrom said Carlson told her she knew nothing about cyber crime, but Nordstrom was enthusiastic about the idea, regardless.
Carlson said “Cyber Shadows” discusses the subject of digital threats in accessible terms.
“Cyber Shadows is about what it means to be human in the age of technology,” Carlson said. “Too often, discussions of cyber crime leave out the human element. This is, in some ways, an ethnography of the digital age.”
Nordstrom said the book is meant to inform people about cyber crime, a topic too infrequently addressed.
“It’s so far beyond identity theft, and a lot of this is not known about, so it’s not illegal,” Nordstrom said. “Literally people are collecting massive profiles on everybody that’s connected to anyone that has to make a decision about you … and buying and selling these all over the world … and you don’t know about it, and you can’t control it.”
Carlson said she has high hopes for the future of “Cyber Shadows.”
“I would love if this book made it into the mainstream and out of the niche group that identifies with cyber issues,” Carlson said. “Technology is a part of the mainstream now, but conversations about that technology are not. I’d love for this book to introduce people to the cyber world, just as it did for me.”