15 April, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - The strangely liberating world of shifting cyber landscapes

*** Special Feature - April 2017 ***

About the Author:
Impressions on a South African farm, boarding school, a father who read from the classics to his children, and a storytelling mother, sparked Geoffrey Wells with a writer’s imagination. Though the piano and drum kits and Mozambique led to his first thriller, A Fado for the River, his career as Art Director in advertising led him to the American Film Institute, and an awe of digital technology propelled him to VP/CIO at Disney, ABC-TV stations and Fox. Wells wrote an award-winning animated film, has visited elephant reserves, and climbed to the tip of Kilimanjaro. He lives on Long Island where he swims the open water and runs a video and design company. He writes thrillers about imperfect characters who, always with a diverse band of allies, fight villains that devastate our natural and virtual ecosystems.

Atone for the Ivory Cloud is a compelling, fast-paced thriller with an exotic international flavor. Geoffrey Wells takes the reader on an enthralling ride, skillfully entwining cybercrime, music, and the fate of African elephants in a breathtaking tale of danger and romance.”
Pamela Burford, best-selling author of Undertaking Irene.

Contact the Author:
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The strangely liberating world of shifting cyber landscapes

(Themes from Atone for the Ivory Cloud)

Most Internet users object to invasions of their privacy, yet they continue to use the Internet with the most rudimentary security, if any. Specifically, people don’t make the effort to protect their Internet browsing history and personal work from the eyes of strangers—in fact the open source movement encourages it. And, while we hate to think that our most private activities online could become public knowledge, we are also horrified by the prospect that we need to use the same tools as the scum bags who hide behind privacy protections where they serve as a proxy for unsavory and illegal activities. 

In my thriller, Atone for the Ivory Cloud I provide a perspective on the value of privacy. My book also sheds light on the current uproar in the United States over the potential for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to have access to the browsing habits of US citizens. I construct a scenario where the service to the Internet is ubiquitous—as is its source. The result is the practice of noninterference in the affairs of others through unfettered open access—provided it can be found. In this world search engines won’t help because no one cares about keywords or optimization. But word of mouth is highly optimized. Big data analysis is impossible. Welcome to the laissez-faire Internet, to us, unthinkable, but to many societies on our planet this is the self-governing method used in markets across the world. And in my book, the Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam is one of them.

In my thriller, Sipho, a Tanzanian textile merchant uses a “box”—an Internet access device—to connect Allison, my main character, to the Internet. The fictional assumption is that rouge Internet devices are prevalent in East African small business operations—including ivory trafficking. In the fictional world I have created, the cat-and-mouse game between small businesses and their predators is constant. This means that merchants like Sipho constantly swap out one device for another to stay one step ahead and obfuscate themselves from cyber criminals who want to steal their revenue streams. When Sipho realizes that Allsion, the electronic composer he met in New York is under cover on the same CIA mission into which he has been recruited, he urges her to use a box to communicate with him. He knows that in Dar es Salaam even her CIA protection can be compromised by the dubious operating procedures at work there, in my story.

The “box” device that I have concocted in my story is loosely based on devices like SupaBRCK working on operating systems like Moja, from the Nairobi-based BRCK.COM company. This CDN (content delivery network that delivers webpages to users) is a service that provides organizations with access to the Internet in a world where power supply is unreliable. In February 2017, the SupaBRCK won the Aegis Graham Bell award in New Delhi, India. My “box” however, takes this model and extends it into a nefarious world where these types of device can emulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs)—hundreds of them—adding and loosing clients every hour.

My ecological technothriller is about Allison, a talented New York-based electronic composer and coder who must go undercover to trap a cybercrime syndicate that has hijacked her website—to traffic African ivory.

Based on this setup you have Allison who is under cover using a different identity, whereas before she was recruited she was still trying to recover from a stolen identity. In other words, she has no idea who she really is. At least, not at first. Then she’s immersed into this shifting cyber landscape where everything is ephemeral and computer network memory can be lost in a second. Surprisingly, this is strangely liberating to her introverted composer sensibility. In the chaos of the physical and virtual world she finds herself, she stumbles on her own authenticity.

If these themes interest you, I invite you to join my newsletter and get a free ebook of Atone for the Ivory Cloud at: http://dl.bookfunnel.com/y1v7e5ikkb

About the Book:
A brilliant composer and coder goes undercover to trap a cybercrime syndicate that has hijacked her website—to traffic blood ivory. She must survive impossible physical, virtual and cultural obstacles and choose between the opposing forces of privacy and responsibility.

Allison is stunned when the CIA leaves her no option but to go undercover to surreptitiously modify the code she wrote to protect her symphony. She is deployed from New York with a savvy street vendor to Tanzania, where he is from—and where the cybercrime trail goes dead. Their guarded love affair is sidelined when they are abducted by a trafficker who poaches elephants on a massive scale. To avoid betraying each other they abandon their CIA handlers and return to New York City. Allison must find a way to bring down the syndicate knowing that she might have to sacrifice her symphony, her loved ones and her privacy—for a greater good.

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3 eBooks of Atone for the Ivory Clouds
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