Categorized | Tech Developments

Security and Privacy: A Dangerous Liason

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Online Security Issues

In today’s wired world, it is hard to have that sense of security and privacy. You do not know if the government is monitoring what you are sending through e-mail or opens the files you are storing in the cloud. Aside from that, why do the advertisements you see while browsing the Internet seem to hit the spot if advertisers cannot access your data?

There are days when you just hope that you can retreat from using all the gadgets that you have and stay unplugged. However, this is not possible and all we can do is deal with the fact that your personal information can be searchable online. The world seems to be getting smaller and more dangerous because of the evolving technology.

The Current Picture

Online Security Issues

Is your password good enough? (Source: Flickr)

While writing this post, a news item about a Palestenian hacker is gaining popularity across the Internet for posting something on Mark Zuckerberg’s official Facebook account. He found a gaping hole on the security protocol of the social media platform, reported it to Facebook software engineers, felt ignored and decided to take it to another level. Issues of security and privacy have made headlines of late and it is of no laughing matter.

PRISM.

Edward Snowden, a former contractor of the National Security Agency in the United States, leaked confidential documents that put spotlight on the government’s program called PRISM. This program allegedly allowed authorities to access the data of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook users.

According to the reports of major news agencies, the U.S. government had access to the servers of the technology giants in order to monitor data for intelligence purposes. This allegation was denied by the tech companies, but the controversy has sparked new discussions about how the government might be reading emails or going through data transmitted online. It seems that the government might be snooping on us even when we are not hiding anything…

GPS Flaw.

Recently, researchers and security experts have revealed a big problem with our global positioning system or GPS. A study pointed to a vulnerability of the system that may allow hackers or terrorist to take control of cruise ships and commercial airlines.

Scientists from the University of Texas actually took control of an $80-million super-yacht back in July as it cruised in the Mediterranean. Using an ordinary laptop and a cheap GPS spoofer, they were able to fool the navigation system of the ship and led it off course. The crew never had a hint that they were not travelling in the right direction. Their instruments lied to them and showed no indication that they were hacked.

Knowing this incident, how can one trust a driver-less car? Never, unless such security loophole is addressed. Imagine how hackers can shut down the whole ports. Imagine how a prankster can lead your car to your mother-in-law’s instead of heading to your office? Nightmare, right?

Web Browser and Password Management.

Even internet browsers like Chrome and Firefox are in hot water due to their security flaws. The serious flaw on Chrome actually allows anyone with access to your computer to see your saved passwords for your social media, e-mail, and other websites. So far, the development team of Chrome has no plans of addressing this issue. Firefox is also under fire because of a similar problem.

Of course one way to lower your risk is not to save your passwords on your browser but we all know that is an impractical move. So why not use password management systems like LastPass? As of this writing, this security protection firm actually reported that user passwords were compromised due to a bug. It is a minimal issue according to the company but it can be a scary situation if you are a small business owner using the software.

 

Borderless World as Technologies Evolve

It is an open world because of technology. While the developments seem so promising in various fields such as science, robotics, biotechnology, communication, and artificial intelligence, there is always a dark side in them.

Flawed GPS

 Heading to the office but found yourself at your mother-in-law’s? (Source: Flickr)

Smart Devices. In the near future, smart devices will make Internet access a lot easier. We will not just connect to the internet with our computers and smartphones but with wearable devices such as smart glasses, smart watches, and other innovations such as computers on the door of your refrigerators or even kitchen countertops. This will create more paranoia in terms of privacy and security. Will Big Brother be able to listen to your conversations tapping through your wearable technology or maybe using the camera of the motion detectors of your gaming consoles?

Blurring Boundaries.

As the planet gets more wired, physical boundaries will no longer be an issue. Technology will converge industries, markets, and economies. Mobile commerce and mobile payment systems will have new models and criminal minds will find new ways to take advantage of these new systems. Hackers and fraudsters will no longer target ATM machines and credit cards, but steal from mobile payment systems. Funds will be stolen, but – worse still – personal data that can be used for more menacing things will be compromised.

Cloud-Based Services.

According to studies, cloud services will go on full bloom by 2016. This will transform how people treat data and how businesses are conducted. Cloud computing will give everyone the flexibility and scalability but then again, there are issues such as business continuity, privacy, and data security.

Business Communication.

Experts foresee how social media, tablets, and smartphones will re-shape how businesses communicate with consumers and how employees will collaborate with each other.  Social listening will be among the top priorities of brands in order to tweak their products and services. Each of us will be targeted by advertisers and they will be able to send seemingly laser-guided ads that will amuse us and have us wondering how they found out.

Big Brother Governments.

As technologies evolve, governments will be more and more involved in technologies. They will pour funds to technologies that can help the economy and at the same time manage internal and external security risks.

 

If you are in London, someone from the other side of the world might actually be looking at your email right now without you knowing it. While advancements in technology make life easier for us, the flipside of the coin reveals that there can be people with ill intentions, who can take advantage of any weaknesses.

Increased vigilance is the only answer to this problem. There is no perfect security and the bad guys will always try to find a way to harm the populace. The technology experts are small in number to take care of everyone, so the old adage of “think before you click” should server as a constant reminder for everyone.

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  • Victor
    Great article on Linkedin! My profile looks much better now..
    14 February 2013
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