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.


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