Mind the gap – even unconnected systems vulnerable

Written by on July 30, 2015 in Features with 0 Comments

Man on a boat in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks.We used to say that the only truly secure systems are unconnected ones. This is no longer true, and very scary. FierceIT security reports that researchers from Ben Gurion University have proved that it is possible to get over the gap created by unplugging a system. Using only a feature phone.

Security is one of the big issues of our time. From national security, to company security to personal security, we all spend too much time and resources protecting our assets and information, while those that wish to attack us spend as even more time and resources getting round the barriers that we put in place. Every time we think we have it solved, we can be sure that we do not. Not even ‘air gapping’ systems is a solution anymore – the Ben Gurion researchers were able to hack systems that were one to one and a half metres away from the phone. When they used a dedicated hardware receiver that distance increased to 30 metres. That means different rooms, even different buildings.

The ramifications of the ever-increasing security threat are huge. It means that every system on earth is vulnerable to some degree. This, in turn, means that all the innovations and great progress of our times are vulnerable.

IoT devices are insecure.

Contactless payments and NFC are not secure.

Mobile devices are vulnerable. (The infographic below shows that 95 percent of mobile apps tested by Trustwave are vulnerable – not to mention the dreaded Stagefright.)

Companies are vulnerable.

Countries are vulnerable.

We are all vulnerable.

The question is whether we are doomed to play ‘catch-up’ with criminals. It is universally accepted that we will never get ahead, simply because we do not know what we do not know. We cannot guess what criminals are thinking, particularly as most hackers are not motivated by money, but the thrill of getting around and into grown up systems.

We can, of course, educate, we can, of course, improve password management, we can, of course, develop biometric solutions. But, at the personal level (who hasn’t been hacked at some point) maybe we just accept the risk as being part of the cost of living. And, like many species of animal, we will, to some extent, find safety in numbers, knowing that the weakest will be the ones that get attacked.

On a corporate level, it is now a large part of the cost of doing business.

On a country level, it is about entire economies and the safety of citizens.

What we do about it at a country level is for others to decide, meanwhile, for companies, here is a useful Infographic.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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