A Forbes article today describes the risk of having a network connection in todays world: "While it allows you to communicate around the globe with the click of a mouse, it also provides a data path for anyone to connect back to you--and not always for good reasons." Really? You'd think we wouldn't need such a warning after decades of various threats from computer virus pandemics, bot-nets, spam, phishing, cyber-stalking, thefts of credit card data, etc.
Having a connection has always been both an opportunity and a risk, and always will be. If a newly built road connects an isolated village, the residents may see a sharp uptick in trade and other potential but they may also not like some of the visitors that trickle in to, say, rob the bank or sell snake oil door to door. Yet they don't barricade the road, or at least rarely so. For all the hysteria we get in the media, people have simply found the benefits to outweigh the risks. If they didn't, Facebook wouldn't even have made it off the drawing board.
What I find the most fascinating is that dual, mutually incompatible beliefs seem to be forming. First, privacy is supposedly under assault - all our activities are tracked, and we must be protected from having that information used against us by the likes of Google, Facebook, or whoever the current bogeyman is. But secondly, being too interconnected means that are vulnerable to apparently untraceable, uncatchable super-geek-criminal groups who are themselves immune to the assault on privacy. That can't stand forever. At some point, the manipulators of an increasingly interconnected network may find it just as difficult to hide as the rest of us do.
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