Things That Scare Me

You’re never quite as safe as you imagined.

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One of the advantages of a hyper-connected world is the ability to tap into anything at any time. If you want to find something, it’s at your fingertips. If you want to buy something, you can search for the best price. And if you want to check out the reviews on a restaurant you’re passing by, it’s likely there are plenty of people who have reviewed it.

There’s a dark side to all of this, however. If you can reach out, people can reach in, and not always in obvious ways. Legal restraints and regulation are slow to follow the onslaught of technology—sometimes by years. Throw in some court challenges by companies making questionable technology and it will take even longer.

Consider, for example, a Stingray phone tracker. The device intercepts communications from cellphones by simulating the reception of a handset’s international mobile subscriber identity code. In other words, it fools the phone into thinking it is talking to a cell tower. And just as a cell tower would, it forces a cellphone to register its location and identifying information with the police device and enables officers to track calls whenever the phone is on.

The Stingray is controversial primarily because it has been widely reported. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union has been complaining in its online publication about the use of these devices by Sarasota, Florida, police.
The Los Angeles Police Department was cited for the same type of behavior, tapping into lives of suspects and non-suspects, as well. Coverage has hit the mainstream press, as well. USA Today reported in June how law enforcement was using similar tools as the NSA.

And those incidents involve public agencies that can be held accountable by the legal system. Imagine how that same technology can be used for other more nefarious purposes.
And then multiply that time the number of wireless communications that will be required for the Internet of Things and you start seeing just how quickly this can escalate out of control.

The bottom line is that security is required at every level, even for devices we take for granted as secure and legally protected, because reality is much different than generally held perceptions. At this point, very little that is electronic is secure. It’s time to start fixing that problem.

What do you think?