Saturday, 5 November 2016

Why does Internet make us exceedingly vulnerable?

Just a few days back, I came across an article on The Scientific American website published by Larry Greenemeier on the 26th of October, 2016 titled: 'IoT Growing Faster Than the Ability to Defend It.' The writer described how the week before saw the use of a large number of web enabled devices attacking the web. What happened was that these devices were hacked without  their owners' knowledge and then they were used to jam particular websites. A large number of internet enabled devices connected to the internet and then they began uploading photographs and other information simultaneously bringing the net to a standstill. All this resulted in what is termed as 'distributed denial of service (DDoS)'. 
One of the greatest worries that we have today is that a large number of the appliances that we use are connected to the internet, this has made the devices accessible to hackers, that is unless you have changed the default password! As a result of these devices being accessible to hackers, their owners too are at a risk of being monitored and tracked by unwanted hackers. What is even more frightening is that the owner might not even be aware that she or he is being tracked or monitored, everything happens quietly in the background! While no doubt we believe that an internet enabled device makes sharing of data easier, it could also mean that someone might be looking at you through that little camera sitting on top of your laptop screen!I have known of acquintances putting sticking paper on their cameras just because they were afraid of being watched by someone on the net.
It is clear that the more connected our devices are, the more vulnerable we are to cyber-attacks. Today we like to inform to the whole world about places we are visiting thanks to the check in option on Facebook and other social networking sites. This is as good as giving away one's location to people who have ulterior motives. A celebrity who had visited Paris for the fashion show indicated her presence at her flat and was then a target for robbery. In many cases this might be the result of carelessness and ignorance. One might not have switched off the check in option, or it might have been switched on by default. In many cases the use of maps for directions, and turning on the GPRS option might result in internet enabled devices leaving a trail that people with bad intentions  could follow!
While  having a strong password, an updated antivirus, and  a sound firewall will help prevent the hacking of your device,the problem arises when you have multiple internet enable devices. The need to remember multiple passwords for multiple devices becomes a tough job so we generally have the same passwords for all the devices. It is common for most people to have a laptops, mobile phones,an IPad/Kindle Reader, and now you have wifi enabled cameras. All these devices, not counting the wifi enable printer require passwords, and when they enter into the sleep mode, they are still accessible through the net. What happens is when a device enters into sleep mode and you try to communicate to it through the internet, it wakes up and then after sometime goes back into sleep mode.
An  increase in the number of such devices it has made it difficult to remember too many passwords! Owners of a large number of itnernet enabled devices will often use the same password for all their devices. This in itself might result in the compromised safety of all the devices. However, having a firewall and even a strong password might not prevent the owner of the device from being tracked or stalked if he leaves an open backdoor in the form of weak privacy settings, and an always switched on location setting.
Yes there one more disturbing thought, what if your driver less car is hacked by trolls? What about pilotless planes, what if they are hijacked by unscrupulous people who are sitting in the safety of their living room working on a laptop, trying to control the flight of the plane? Are we mature enough, or even ready enough for the Internet Of Things? Has technology moved ahead of us? Is Artificial Intelligence changing us? Could it be that Aritificial Intelligence decides to take over human control of the whole planet? The answers can be more frightening than the questions themselves! Greenemeier

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