The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece today entitled “The Internet Of Things: How Will We Trust A Word It Says?” which makes the future sound rather scary. The key question posed is this: “what are the security issues surrounding an internet of 50 billion devices, 48 billion of which are going to be cheap remote sensors of some kind?” The WSJ then went on to look at the possibilities for malicious activity against corporations by deliberately injecting false data, but the first thing that hit me was the privacy thing and a book I read a while back called ‘The Transparent Society’ by one of my favorite authors, David Brin.
With all those sensors collecting all that data on the temperature of my fridge and the emptiness of my parking spot, probably with security precautions taken less seriously than for credit card data, it seems like we’re just going to have to take for granted that privacy will become a dead concept. If the rich and powerful (public or private, individually or collectively) will one way or another have the ability to access that data, legally or not, then the only defense is for it to be available to everyone democratically – and insecurely. The more data we have floating around about things we think should we private, the more impossible it is going to become to even dream that Apple and Google don’t know where we’ve been hanging out.
Given the prevalence of botnets and phishing and DOS attacks and Sony hackings and the like, we can’t even keep secure the devices and data we think we know how to keep secure. Just imagine how many holes there will be when we have 50 billion devices on-net? The only reason to feel safe is that there are so many the bad guys won’t know who to target first. Ah well, the ‘internet of things’ is not yet here. Good thing too, since I don’t even have a smartphone yet. I’ll have to rectify that situation soon.
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