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 previous week a number of web-enabled devices had attacked the web thus slowing down traffic effectively bringing the internet to a standstill. What had happened was that these devices were hacked without their owners' knowledge and then they were used to jam targeted websites. A large number of internet-enabled devices that had been connected to the internet began uploading photographs and other data at the same time.  All this resulted in what is termed as 'distributed denial of service (DDoS)'. 
One of the greatest concerns we have today is that a lot of the appliances that we use are connected to the internet and they are vulnerable to hacking unless you have taken a string of measure: changed the default password, installed firewalls or perhaps locked yourself out of the internet. Because these devices are accessible to hackers, their owners' private information is at a risk of being monitored and tracked by unwanted hackers. What is most frightening is that most of the time the owner is not aware that she or he is being tracked, monitored or hacked, everything happens so 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 acquaintances putting sticking paper on their cameras just because they were afraid of being watched by someone on the net.
It is evident that the more connected we are, the more vulnerable we are to cyber-attacks. In many cases, we are at fault. We love to inform the whole world about our movements thanks to the check-in option on social networking sites. This is as good as informing thieves and robbers the correct time to break into our houses to steal.  A celebrity who had visited Paris for a fashion show indicated her presence at her flat. The robbers knew she was wearing a lot of jewellery. They only had to wait for her to turn up at her flat.  In many cases, people become the targets of criminals because of their own carelessness and ignorance. You should never leave the check-in option on. 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 enabled 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 laptops, mobile phones, an iPad/Kindle Reader, and now you have wifi enabled cameras.Most of these devices continue to be accessible through the internet even when they are in the sleep mode. It is advisable, therefore to switch off your device when it is not in use!
An increase in the number of such devices it has made it difficult to remember too many passwords! Owners of internet-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.
There is one more disturbing thought, what if your driverless car is hacked by criminals? They would  only have steer the car to a remote locality from where they could kidnap you or rob you! 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 ready enough for the Internet Of Things? Has technology moved ahead of us? Is Artificial Intelligence changing us? Could it be that Artificial Intelligence decides to take over human control of the whole planet? The answers can be more frightening than the questions themselves!


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/iot-growing-faster-than-the-ability-to-defend-it/Larry Greenemeier

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