Archive for category Internet Safety
In a word: No.
I talked a while back about how a digital attack on Iran could well be the opening of a new phase where the Internet is a battlefield as much as any war torn country. Well, that seems to have been born out this past week with a number of online attacks “originating from China”. I put quotes around that because it’s entirely possible that efforts to trace the attack have simply been fooled into thinking that the trail ends in China. With the Cloud becoming more popular, it’s going to be easier for hackers to take over your computer for their use, without you ever knowing about it.
However, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t someone (or several someones) in China, either. There’s something fishy going on, though, because the Chinese government has denied that they were involved (check the bottom of the article). Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember anyone else suggesting that they had anything to do with it. Sadly, it’s all too easy for anyone with a bit of programming knowledge to hack into computers these days. The odds are pretty good, I think, that the hit on WordPress was just someone making trouble for kicks, like about half of the hacking done anyway.
However, some of it looks to have been pretty deliberately targeted. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with G20 or not, you’ve got to agree that the hacking attempts against them really made a mess of things. Put together, they almost look like someone’s getting revved up (no, I don’t think it’s the Chinese government) to make a big splash in the hacking community – who, of course, is probably reading this right now and trying not to laugh too hard.
Just kidding, everyone. Most of the people in the hacking world aren’t doing it for sheer hate, although plenty of them are using it to make money. But this is another excellent example of how the Internet is turning into a new frontier for warfare, so you need to make sure that your computers and websites are as safe as you can make them. Beyond that, there’s nothing you can do but keep moving forward in your business and hope that you never have to deal with the worst of what could happen.
By now you’ve noticed how much people are starting to value to new “Cloud” approach to the Internet. It really is more advanced than the basic per-server way that everything’s been done so far. But, you might not know that the hardware used on all computers is evolving to, because that advance is coming from a sector you might have overlooked: gaming.
Everyone knows that one day, we’re going to have something that looks like the computer systems in the old Jetsons TV series, but thanks to the Xbox Kinect and a bunch of people tinkering with it on their own time, we’re actually a step closer to the day when your whole room is your computer interface. With further innovation, the technology behind the Kinect could soon replace both keyboard and mouse as the way we control our computers.
As soon as that’s combined with the new Cloud technology, we’ll be able to just turn on our monitor-televisions and control everything with a wave of our hands. It’ll be so amazingly easy to access everything we want that the way we’re surfing the web now (admittedly impressive) will seem like the crude bumbling of technological cavemen.
Of course, falling back on classic geek humor lines, it’s also possible that we’re creating our own doom here. The Cloud works byhaving computers share their resources with each other, essentially turning them into a larger hive computer. Many sci-fi stories have relied on the premise that something like this leads to computers becoming self-aware and deciding that they should get rid of humanity. If that happens, we’re giving an ideal set of eyes to something that ultimately wants to kill us.
In the meantime, we move forward, advancing ourselves toward a brighter futurewhere our lives will be a little easier and our days will be filled with easier access to the information we need. It may well be that our computing and cloud surfing will be a lot safer than browsing the Internet has ever been. Just make sure that you know how to deal with giant killer robots along the way.
Incoming! Time to get in the bomb-shelter!
Except, it’s a cyber-bomb, not a literal one. In the past few months, we’ve seen a large increase in warning signs that the Internet is going to turn into a literal battlefield one day. That viral attack that did physical damage in Iran a month ago is a good example.
However, the U.S. Air Force has recently declassified its own manual on protecting oneself against cyberwarfare. It makes mention of methods far more malevolent than mere identity theft, although those are included as well. The point is that they’re considering the possibility of more cyberattacks, possibly of equal or greater magnitude to the one Iran suffered.
So, basically, there’s no shelter against this bomb.
And, like sold or stolen nukes, pretty much anyone with the right contacts can get hold of such a weapon. All anyone can do is shore up their firewalls and antivirus countermeasures, and try to make themselves look like they’re not worth hitting. At least we have some consolation that these are steps people already take to some extent or other, because this really raises questions about how safe we really are online.
It’s always been apparent that the Internet is changing and will continue to do so in the future, but that doesn’t mean that it should be doing so in the direction of warfare. Jules Verne once described what’s essentially been equated to nuclear submarines in his “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, and now such vessels are used by all the major powers of the world. So what’re we going to find here: digital monsters that zap around their battlefield and can take each other over? Virtual warriors who can “jump” from one structure to another and breach firewalls with a single “punch”? Skynet?
Seriously? Is that what we’re coming to here? Everyone knows that the Internet isn’t as safe as we’d like it to be, but if it becomes a battlefield – even in a limited war – then that conflict is going to be one without boundaries, because that’s the reality of how interconnected everything online is. All we can do is hope and pray that such a thing doesn’t actually come about, because there just might be no difference between the front line and the home front if it does.
Google’s done it again. They’re in trouble for toeing the “creepy line”, and want to improve their image. So, what do they do but extend their field of influence yet again? Now they’re building a 350 mile power line that’s expected to carry electricity from Atlantic wind farms to nearly two million homes. All well and good.
But the very thing that people have been worrying about is that Google is getting hold of too much of their lives. Their CEO recently said that the company should be “the third half of your brain”, but apparently they now want to be the third half of your battery as well.
Honestly, I’ve got no problem with them making money. But it seems to me that when your company is under fire for taking over too much, the best way to solve things isn’t to try garnering points by doing something PC in a new field of business (that’s more expansion). Instead, you should clean up your act in the area people are complaining about.
Sure, they’re only funding the start of the project, but how’s that actually different as an effort to improve the way the company’s perceived? They may be enjoying a little better perception at the moment, but this doesn’t do anything but deflect the ire that’s been directed toward them for the past several months and will probably end up increasing it if they decide to pursue the project after their initial investment runs out.
Google’s been making a lot of enemies both in public and private lately because of their ability and clear willingness to go too far in their quest to provide information to people using their sites. Expanding things so that they’re also providing those people with electricity isn’t going to help with that in the long run, if it even does in the short run. And, if you’re watching the “creepy line” so you can toe up to it, you’ve crossed it several yards back.
We’ve heard this one before. Seriously.
Yet they keep telling us the same story all over again. Now Facebook doesn’t seem to know how to police itself in order to maintain its own privacy policies. Undoubtedly, they’re scrambling to fix the problem now that it’s become known, but you’d think they would be looking to make sure that this sort of thing didn’t happen in the first place.
Strictly speaking, the problem isn’t Facebook’s fault, because they don’t control the apps that people use. However, they do still bear responsibility since the apps in question are transmitting user IDs of people on Facebook. That’s why people may find that their favorite games aren’t working for a while – Facebook is shutting down (at least temporarily) the apps that have been giving out that data, either deliberately or unknowingly.
Now I don’t honestly want to sound like I’m out to get Facebook, because I’m not. They’re working to fix the problem, and they’re being moderately upfront about it (although I didn’t find out about this because of them telling me). The thing is, though, that they’ve been taking a lot of heat lately, especially in the category of the privacy of the site’s users. Spam is a violation of privacy if you have to deal with it. Coordinating the site with ski lodges can reduce your level of privacy. Getting placed in groups without your consent, and sometimes without your knowledge, is a privacy issue.
The point is, people may not realize it, but Facebook is in trouble. Heck, people are even starting to experiment with “what if we gave up the site for a while”. The company recently quintupled its stock – that is, cut the value of each stock by 5 & said that everyone had 5 times as much stock as they did before. That’s a lot of financial success, and we’ve seen before just how dangerous that can be for a software company – Microsoft, anyone?
Personally, I like Facebook, even though they seem to change the format on me every few months. It helps me keep in touch with people that have moved out of the direct spheres of my life. But if they don’t stop letting these problems slip past their screening, people are going to start hating the service every bit as actively as they do all the software giants that have gotten so successful that people got sick of them.