m-i-bAs a rule of thumb, the fastest adopters of new technology are pornographers and criminals (two sets that often overlap). So it should come as no surprise that the latest thing to worry security specialists is 3-D printing.

You’ll have seen the stories in the papers about how you can create real working guns with 3-D printers – but not real working ammunition, presumably – and how one squillionaire is planning to send some to Mars so that they can start building, er, buildings for habitation by future generations of human colonists.

There is even a WikiLeaks-style site that has set itself up as a repository for copyrighted 3-D compatible plans that you can download and create objects from. Will that put counterfeiters of name-brand goods out of business? Or will it just mean that there are more of them.

If you’re the kind of person who sits around thinking up ways of protecting the financial markets, this opens up a world of possibilities: just think of the things you could print that might be used in a physical version of cybercrime, urged one such person over a surreptitious cappuccino recently.

Okay, how about those little pens they have in branches? They must be really valuable – why else are they always tied down?

“No”, replied our chum, adjusting his white hat (had that been 3-D printed?). “Think bigger.”

“How big?”

“About as big as an ATM machine.”

“WTF? Really?”