Kirkus Reviews: Privacy Pandemic


How Cybercriminals Determine Targets, Attack Identities, and Violate Privacy–and How Consumers, Companies, and Policymakers Can Fight Back

Christopher A. Smith
Amplify Publishing (304 pp.)
$30.00 hardcover, $9.99 e-book
ISBN: 9781645433934
November 7, 2023

Tech entrepreneur and author Smith considers the growing threat of cybercrime and offers ways to respond to it, personally and politically.

In 2018, the author was targeted by what he calls a “relentless band of identity thieves” who wreaked years of havoc on his financial life.

Fortunately, as a tech-firm professional, he had the knowledge and resources to fight back against them, but it still took five years of effort and exacted an emotional toll. As online connectivity becomes a principal feature of modern life, the author says, people are increasingly vulnerable to identity theft, and the problem is only worsened by the negligence of the “profit-obsessed corporations” that have become the “custodians of our private lives.”

Identity theft scams are on the rise; in 2020, Smith notes, they collectively led to $56 billion in losses for consumers. He astutely recommends a diverse anti-cybercrime approach that includes legislation that protects consumer data more robustly, the elimination of Social Security numbers, and wider adoption of secure blockchain technology.

However, the crux of the problem, he says, is a general lack of personal vigilance: “Cybercriminals, specifically hackers, play on our very human weakness, carelessness, or trust to take advantage of us. Because they know they’re running a scam and we don’t, that information asymmetry gives them the advantage.”

This book is remarkably thorough, and Smith devotes most of it to equipping readers with methods to protect their data and respond to breaches that will almost inevitably occur, no matter how vigilant they are. He covers a wide range of ways to avoid the “self-sabotage” upon which criminals rely, and he conveys it all in clear language that will be accessible even to those who aren’t tech-savvy.

Sometimes he resorts to the sort of incendiary language that one associates with infomercials (“You can’t fight a war if you don’t know your enemy, and make no mistake, we’re all at war”), and the book does indeed conclude with the author advocating his own data-protection firm, DFend. Nonetheless, this is an impressively helpful guide.

A comprehensive resource for those looking to protect themselves from identity theft.

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Christopher A. Smith is the author of Privacy Pandemic: How Cybercriminals Determine Targets, Attack Identities, and Violate Privacy—and How Consumers, Companies, and Policy-Makers Can Fight Back—release date November 7th, 2023 from Amplify Publishing.