In the first half, Pulitzer Prize–winning former reporter for the Boston Globe, Fred Kaplan, discussed how our lives and the nation's infrastructure are dependent on digital technology, which is leaving American security vulnerable to malicious hackers that can conceivably wreak destruction from their keyboards. He looked back at the history of the intelligence community as it relates to computers and the dawn of the Internet age, and revealed that the US has actually been doing hacking and intrusions into other countries systems for a long time. "We have better rocks that we can throw at other houses, but we live in a much glassier house" in that the US system is so heavily computer networked, he noted.
The US is getting more adept at determining who is behind cyber attacks, Kaplan reported. For instance, in the Sony Pictures hack, the NSA (who has infiltrated North Korea's networks) was able to go back through their files and "watch exactly what the North Korean hackers were watching on their monitors, while they were doing the hack," he cited, adding that it's become an elaborate cat and mouse game. At this juncture, "hacking and the communication intercepts are so...very widespread that it's very difficult to get away...and be anonymous," he remarked. While nation states have generally been behind the most sophisticated incursions, the threat of cyber-terrorism by rogue groups is becoming increasingly possible, Kaplan admitted.
In the latter half, associate professor at Cardiff University in Wales, Jan Bondeson, talked about his most recent work on the history of Jack the Ripper and why he captured the fascination of so many over the last century. He also addressed other mysterious cases of murder in Victorian England, and the ghoulish handiwork of Ripper's rivals. "Jack the Ripper was a pretty shrewd murderer because you cannot commit five perfect murders without being fairly clever and having excellent local knowledge. He must have known those Whitechapel streets and alleys like the back of his hand," he commented. One suspect, Aaron Kosminksi, was a schizophrenic, and it was unlikely that the prostitute victims would have gone with him, he said. A known serial killer named Thomas Neill Cream has also been suspected, but he was in prison in America at the time of one of the murders, Bondeson noted.
He detailed the Great Coram Street murder of 1872, when a prostitute, Harriet Buswell, was gruesomely killed by a German-accented customer whom she'd taken back to her lodging. The suspect evaded capture, and Harriet's ghost was said to haunt the residence for many decades after. Bondeson also named other "murder houses" of London where infamous crimes had taken place, such as the "Tooting Horror of 1895," in which a man named Taylor murdered his wife and six of his seven children.