Never under-estimate the danger of connecting everything

Written by on November 19, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Uninhabited island in the PacificIt seems that even though we are now in real danger of our very infrastructure being attacked and diverted we will not slow down in our crusade to connect everything that sits still long enough. Although we make fun of various elements of the connected home, there is a serious and dark side to them as well. While defence contractors and Governments plan a €10 billion spending spree on cyber warfare weapons, it seems that your coffee maker can open the doors to your home.

In a well-reported incident several months ago, a hacker took over a baby monitor and gave said baby a shock by shouting through the machine.

More seriously, Kasperky Labs has had a look at a range of home appliances and found them lacking. A real danger. According to their report, ‘the coffeemaker examined during the experiment was sending enough unencrypted information for an attacker to discover the password for the coffeemaker owner’s entire Wi-Fi network.’ They also discovered that they could open and close a window, with a magnet, without setting off the alarm.

It is, perhaps, not surprising. A coffee maker maker (if you see what I mean) has been peacefully making coffee makers for decades. Now he wants to connect it (why?), and he has no idea about the danger of so doing. Nor does he have (and why should he) any idea about securing the thing.

Perhaps it is too late to pause, and consider the real, and as yet untested danger of our ever more connected world. Perhaps we are so fixated on connecting everything that we are not able to stop. There is, let us face it, too much money at stake.

If that is the case, and it pretty clearly is, then €10 billion in extra cyber security kit seems far too little.

If it is even remotely possible (and it seems it is highly possible) for purveyors of the dark arts to breach and subvert our infrastructure – electricity grids, air traffic control systems and coffee makers, then what on earth do we do? We face, as President Harrison Skywalker once said, a clear and present danger.

Clearly security has become the prized possession and those who can provide security are attracting attention and money at an astronomical rate (see this and consider ‘hacking as a service‘).

And security does seem to be something that operators can add to their offerings, and are beginning to do so. And that is valuable to everyone.

The question is, though, are they good enough to combat a concerted, consolidated and lethal threat?

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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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