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Cybercrimes with Ben Hammersley

Programme Run: 6 x 30 Minutes
Production: Tern TV
First Transmitted: 2014HD available

Cybercrime is THE major threat to our digital age, our era of unparalleled change; and this new, engaging series will present a definitive look at the threats, tactics, enemies and guardian angels of the online world.

 Our preview videos are intended for broadcasters looking to licence content from the Open University. 

The 6 x 30 minute series is written and presented by journalist Ben Hammersley, a technologist whose mission is to help explain the modern world and where it is taking us. No longer is hacking the preserve of teenage miscreants causing mischief in their parents’ basement – cybercrime has evolved into a highly organised and complex commercial enterprise involving leaders, planners, engineers, infantry and hired money mules. Yet with all the hype around evolving threats, little attention is being paid to the changing IT environment itself. Many new technologies – from cloud computing and social media to mobile device management – are transforming the face of global information security. It goes without saying that cybercrime gets more sophisticated every year and Ben Hammersley is anxious that we catch up…fast.

Episode 1: DARKNETS
The Silk Road was a billion dollar drugs marketplace on the darknet, run by a mastermind called Dread Pirate Roberts. Then, in October 2013, the site was closed down by the FBI and its alleged founder arrested in San Francisco. Ben Hammersley explores whether the young man who now awaits trial - Ross Ulbricht - really is Dread Pirate Roberts, and finds out what impact alter egos, darknets and crypto currencies like Bitcoin have on the modern world.

Episode 2: HEISTS
2013 was a very bad year for big business. In February $45m was stolen from ATMs around the world after cyber criminals hacked credit cards and gave them unlimited withdrawal limits. Then, in November, 40 million credit card numbers were removed from the point-of-sale terminals of US retailer Target. Ben Hammersley travels to New York and Washington DC to look at how crime has evolved, forensically examining the many ranks and roles of a modern criminal organisation. He also asks whether the vast fruits of cybercrime are responsible for the fall in violent crime in the West.

Episode 3: SCAMS
It has been estimated that almost 70% of all email traffic is spam. And, in the online world, it is Nigeria that is often seen as the biggest culprit. Ben Hammersley travels to Lagos to meet online scammers and the police tasked with tracking them down. He also tells the incredible story of how, in the mid-90s, Nigerian scammers stole nearly a quarter of a billion dollars from Brazilian bank Noroeste. But in a diverse country of 168 million and the largest economy in Africa, Ben asks if labelling Nigeria as the worst offender is just another lazy stereotype.

Episode 4: PIRACY
The Pirate Bay is one of the largest file sharing sites in the world, founded in Sweden in 2003 by Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde. Faced with extreme pressure from the US-led entertainment industry, the founders were tried for copyright infringement in 2009. Ben Hammersley visits Stockholm to tell the story of the internet trial of the century and looks at how it affected our relationship with Big Media, copyright, and the notion of ownership online.

Episode 5: CYBER WAR
It has been described as the Hiroshima of cyber war, the moment where the fevered imaginations of science fiction finally came true. A computer worm called Stuxnet disrupted what the west claimed to be Iran’s top-secret plans to build a nuclear bomb. Ben Hammersley travels to LA, Berlin and London to find out what impact Stuxnet has had on the future of warfare.

In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed to the world the systematic surveillance of global internet traffic by the US and the UK. What he revealed was simply spectacular. Ben Hammersley travels to Washington DC, New York, London and Berlin to examine the ramifications of Snowden’s NSA files. Do our governments need these powers to protect us from terrorism, paedophilia and cyber criminality? Or should we fight for the right to privacy online?


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