Friday, November 03, 2017

Security, the Internet of Things and The Future of Humanity

I don't know about you, but security issues with digital devices, websites and apps both worry me and render me feeling a bit lost and as if we're always going to be fighting a losing battle with hackers and fraudsters. There are stories in the news every day about a data hack with consumer data being stolen, being locked out of personal accounts, having our laptops being held to ransom and more. It's very worrying as to how vulnerable we can be. And this isn't necessarily through any fault of our own.

As a consumer, we have little control over what happens on the server of the service we're accessing. So even if we're taking care with out passwords and login details, if the server is hacked, we're still vulnerable. Add to that the plethora of connected devices on the market such as routers, health trackers, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Home, Smart Meters and you see the problem is even bigger than just dealing our phones, tablets and laptops. Much of or town and city infrastructure is also connected such as the Oyster Card system on London's Underground, connect street lighting and traffic lights, CCTV cameras, speed cameras and much more besides. This part of the technology industry is only going to get bigger.

Fortunately, there are some very smart people working very hard indeed to help keep us and our digital lives safe. One of those people is David Rogers, my go to guy on all things mobile security. He writes in a post he's written today,
"We know that regular software updates, whilst a pain to establish and maintain are one of the best preventative and protective measures we can take against attackers, shutting the door on potential avenues for exploitation whilst closing down the window of exposure time to a point where it is worthless for an attacker to even begin the research process of creating an attack." 
That makes me feel marginally better about the tedium of seemingly endless updates to apps and software. It also shows us how important it is to keep these things up to date.

But keeping these things up to date, secure and safe is not a trivial task. It's complex and you're likely dealing with a supply chain rather than a single company. I imagine it could be quite daunting for a start-up or a small company.

If you're a developer of software or hardware or commission software or hardware or are generally interested in these things, especially in relation to the Internet of Things, then you would do well to have a gander at David's post, 'The Future of Humanity Depends on Us Getting Security Right with Internet of Things' and check his list of resources and further reading. He really is expert in this area. And I don't think he's underplaying it when he says that the future of humanity depends on it. With all the connected equipment in hospitals, schools, banks, energy companies, airports, transport networks and more, these are all vital and largely invisible parts of our lives. It's only when they don't work that we feel it and the impact can be truly dreadful, and indeed, life threatening.

I, for one, am reassured that there are lots of people in different areas of the business looking at this, not in silos, but together to come up with the right solutions and to keep coming up with solutions as this area evolves and grow. And if you're a youngster thinking about what career you might go into, I'd say that you'd be fairly sure of a solid and lucrative career by specialising in cyber security.

(Day 3/30 NaBloPoMo done.)