Skip to main content
Face it - We're Toast

It was predicted this week that within a few years, corporate security systems will not only be attacked by worms and viruses but that toasters and refrigerators would also be open to compromise.



According to a ZDNET report, instant worm attacks and household toasters have been highlighted by security experts as some of the biggest threats faced by Internet users over the coming years.

This week at the Compsec 2003 conference in London – funny nobody invited me - , a panel of security experts told attendees that they should be preparing for the day that their systems are attacked by an undocumented worm that exploits an unknown vulnerability at lightning speed.

"You have zero prior knowledge of the exploit and zero prior knowledge of the worm," said Richard Ford, research professor at the Florida Institute of Technology's Centre for Information Assurance. "By the time you have blinked and started wondering why the traffic indicator on your router is flashing continuously, it is all over," he said.

Britain was also warned over the dangers of embedding Internet connectivity into household appliances such as toasters and refrigerators, specifically mentioning an online toaster that would, every morning, automatically connect to the Web and download the daily weather forecast, then burn it into the bread.

Although the gadget is intended for entertainment, there was a warning that such devices could leave networks exposed, because if they contain any vulnerability users are unlikely to bother patching them.

No mention was made of the danger to electric toothbrushes, Government websites or nuclear power stations but this kind of warning on the potential threat to toasters, fridges, Furbies and the next generation of domestic IP appliances has been circulating for at least three years now if not more. One hopes that by the time such remarkable devices start to appear in Comet or Dixons, that the world will have moved a little closer to solving its Internet security problems.

Without this, our worm-ridden digital future will be one long and miserable round of burned toast and melted ice cream not to mention trains that don’t run on time, power cuts, speed cameras, the congestion charge, Sobig, Blaster, postal strikes, New Labour and rap music.

Lots to look forward to then.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…