A lot of what’s coming is not going to improve life at all. It’ll just make it easier to rob you
By: John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine
The latest cyber threat is a new piece of programmable malware called Regin.
The media has approached the discovery of this code from various perspectives. Most believe it to be some cool multi-purpose code developed by the U.S. or British government. It’s apparently used to spy on large corporations or even target individuals for anti-terrorism reasons or even blackmail.
What is completely overlooked in the analysis is that within the next year or two this code will be completely in the wild and reverse engineered. Then, anyone with a computer and a few layers of proxy protection will be able to launch it. We can all become snoops and spies. I’m sure someone will write some elaborate documentation for it, too.
This ease of distribution is the problem with developing anything like this. It’s not like designing an A-bomb, which requires all sorts of high-end investment to be useful. This is code, a program. It costs nothing to redesign it if you have enough brains and talent to do so. Thousands of people out there in the wild have enough skills to make it work as a generic program. The government bureaucrats who green light these sorts of advanced projects have no clue how all of these thing will backfire as long as one person with curiosity and a little spare time can turn the code on the developers who coded it.
This is the ugly secret of cyber war and cyber terrorism. The investment is not money—it’s time. All you need is patience.
I’ve always wondered why people, after three decades of computers, are still generally clueless about what hackers like to do. Here it is in a nutshell: hackers like to prove that the entire universe of high tech is buggy at best, dangerous at worst.
Anyone with any common sense can expect this to remain a constant. I’ve seen no evidence that hackers will ever let up. Whenever I hear someone using the words “safe and secure” I always end the sentence with “until hackers target it.”
In the near future I expect some hilarious hacks of “safe and secure” home automation systems. A medley of hacks will turn your home into a piece of performance art. Picture the lights flashing on and off while the thermostat is set to 120 degrees and the garage door opens and closes, opens and closes, incessantly. Being locked out of your own house as the police are called would be amusing. The sky is the limit for fun gags.
Networked cars also invite hilarious hacks. You come to a stop sign and the airbag is deployed. BOOM.
Another obvious target will be all the futuristic tap-and-pay schemes, like Apple Pay, where you pay for groceries or items with your phone using NFC. While this all sounds like a peachy idea, you can be sure it will be hacked sooner rather than later.
I’m reminded of a product from the late 1980s, when all the car companies were putting remote unlocking radios on keyfobs. For at least six months in the back of a few magazines someone sold a transceiver guaranteed to unlock all car doors with the push of a button. You could go into an airport parking lot and unlock all the doors and rummage through the contents. Law enforcement finally figured it out and put a stop to it.
I’m not sure what is used today to open car locks. And I’ve long since disabled the feature on my car.
People who are all-in with these supposed technology improvements will be in for a rude awakening somewhere along the way. A lot of what’s coming is not going to improve life at all. It’ll just make it easier to rob you.