Michael Marshall: 'Identity terrorism' could unsettle society

With every day that passes it becomes easier and easier for someone to carve at the heart of you. That's what people are stealing now, and 99 per cent of the time it's not going to matter. But then one day a photo of some cruel, bad thing gets posted somewhere in your name, and it really, really does.

You can get money back. Privacy can be regained. Identity, on the other hand, is a one-way street. Ask anyone who's been slandered or falsely accused. There doesn't need to have been a fire. The smoke never completely fades.

It's not about the cost of the wine any more, bottom line. It's about the cost to your identity - and when it comes to who you are and how people perceive you, it's the little things that count. A couple of years ago my own Twitter account got hacked, and a few followers received a tweet claiming I could tell them the secret to making seventeen hundred thousand million dollars a day.

Some people simply gave me a polite heads up, but others were weirdly bad-tempered about it - despite it being something outside my control, a wrong that had been done to me, not them. When you present in ways that are unexpected, people's response will be unexpected too.

Invasive theft

I have no clue what the rat-people want, the ones who've always stolen and spoiled whatever's to hand. They think so differently to you and me that it's hard to get into their tiny, dark little minds. They may merely be making mischief. They could be trying to forge routes from trivial passwords to the more important ones - or may even be in league with the major credit cards, to help them sell us all Identity Theft insurance.

They could even be laying the groundwork for a new and insidious kind of war – let's call it Identity Terrorism - in which the lives of people both great and small are compromised through bad deeds apparently done in their name, in order to subtly unsettle our societies.

I don't know what their plan is.

But I know we'll find out.

You can find more about Michael and his books at michaelmarshallsmith.com