Riot in Vancouver - how funny was it?

Filed Under: Data loss, Law & order, Privacy, Social networks

Last night, the Stanley Cup Final was played here in Vancouver between our team, the Canucks, and the Boston Bruins. This morning Vancouver was in the news but for all the wrong reasons.

Following the Canucks' defeat at the hands of ueber-goalie Tim Thomas and his men, a riot occurred.

Over the course of three hours, shops were looted, property vandalised and cars set on fire in a small area of downtown Vancouver. Sophos is located right in the middle of the trouble area so we were all faced with the aftermath as we arrived for work this morning.

Over 100,000 people were out on the streets during the evening, watching the game on big-screen TVs set up by the City. It was a small core of troublemakers - no more than 100, it seems - who caused the bulk of the damage.

But watching the events unfold on the live TV coverage I was struck by how many people were on the periphery, larking around, taking photos and laughing as the destruction continued.

Although the vast majority of Vancouverites are disgusted and embarrassed by what went on, it seems clear that those who laughed at the violence contributed to the problem. Without an audience egging them on and getting in the way of attempts to stop them, the riots would have fizzled out much sooner.

What's any of this got to do with computer security?

In the cyberworld, there is a group of criminals currently going around apparently unimpeded, attacking legitimate businesses and endangering the privacy and livelihoods of their customers. I'm talking about LulzSec, of course.

Just like the Vancouver looters, LulzSec are moving from site to site, launching pointless attacks and putting the livelihood of corporations and the privacy of their customers at risk. The effects of their activities are going to impact more people than some broken shop windows up here in our corner of Canada.

Here on Naked Security yesterday we held a poll to gauge readers' reactions to the activities of LulzSec. The result was that a large number of people thought LulzSec's activities were funny - they were just having a bit of a laugh.

Would those people also find the actions of these criminals here in Vancouver funny? I hope not.

Computer crime and attitudes to security from threats online are still seen as less serious than physical crimes. This isn't surprising - it's easier to respond to things we can see and understand. But with so much of our wealth and livelihood tied up in computers, networks and online services it's time we stopped thinking like that and started taking the virtual world seriously.

P.S. The rivalry between Sophos's offices in Vancouver and Boston was almost as intense as that on the ice. Bets were laid, involving promises to donate money to local charities. As a result of Boston's victory, staff at Sophos Vancouver have pledged at least $500 to help victims of the recent tornadoes in western Massachusetts.

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8 Responses to Riot in Vancouver - how funny was it?

  1. Sue · 1575 days ago

    I think that people need to grow up , getting that upset over a hockey game , and doing that kind of damage shows that were filled in this society with a bunch of Ungodly People full of mayhem , Maby its time that they were made to learn about the value of things by taking everything they own and casting it into the street and lighting it one fire then giving them a kick in the ass. As far as hockey players if this is what their carrers are causing maby its time to keep there games one of fun and get into a carrer that doesn't cause so much destruction. Sorry If my comments are not welcome , but then Im sure that the destruction that is caused by these People that obviously shoud be locked up in an asylum are not either. And Im being gentle Id like to say alot more but won't feed anyone's anger more than I have to. Ps one more thing , Grow up people You got not moral standards and no head on your shoulders.

    • Patrick · 1574 days ago

      It isn't really about the game, for more of the rioters. For some, yes.

      But due to deindividuation (people in groups tend to feel that they can't be identified and relax their normal social constraints), which occurs commonly when there are large groups. It became more about conformity to the dominant group than about anger at the results of the game.

      Along with this is the diffusion of personal responsibility--a person feels that they cannot be held responsible (either because they're acting under the influence of authority or, as in this case, they feel that they can't be identified).

  2. Only in (NHL) hockey u can hit a guy with a stick in the back of his head and not be charged for deadly assault.

  3. Rick · 1573 days ago

    No difference between professional sports and the Roman Coliseum and the filthy rabble who place such importance on a game.

  4. n8wheel · 1572 days ago

    Yes, LulzSec is "attacking legitimate businesses and endangering the privacy and livelihoods of their customers". However, aren't they just exposing and exploiting vulnerabilities that true cybercriminals might have used just months or years later?

    As our computing world grows ever more "connected" it also grows ever more analogous to a true biological system, wherein new diseases are constantly evolving, and our immune systems need to update or evolve to adapt and survive.

    We should thank hackers for exposing the weaknesses in our systems. What if our defenses remained at the level they were in, say, 2001, and we entered a serious world war? The U.S. (and our favorite 51st state, Canada) could be taken down, or at least seriously hurt, by a country no bigger than Romania.

    People need to wise up to the facts. It is a big world out there, and outlawing viruses and their creators does nothing more than buy us a false sense of security for a few moments. You might as well outlaw the common cold.

    • Some guy · 1471 days ago

      Sorry buddy, but they're not that much different than they were in 2001.

      • n8wheel · 1465 days ago

        Unfortunately I'm sure you're 95% correct. And in the past ten years more industries and infrastructures have probably connected their critical, soft underbelly systems to the internet. All so some executive can check the status of a pump from his bedside laptop...

  5. tl;dr
    The majority of our readership(*) don't agree with us, so we'll call them uninformed idiots.

    * OK web polls =/= scientific studys (no control, you don't know the demographics of the votes, people only vote if they feel strongly etc etc etc)

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About the author

Rich is a Senior Product Manager with responsibility for Web Protection across Sophos's product range. He has been with Sophos for so long that his first job involved mailing out anti-virus updates on 5¼" floppies. Feel free to contact him by email.