BLOG: Those who forget past tech are doomed to be hacked

Robert X. Cringely

Hacker breaches and NSA digi-rectal probing have gotten us frightened of today's connected extravagances like Facebook, smart fridges, or the Justin Bieber Twitter feed. It's become bad enough that off-grid-friendly geeks are distributing freedom aids like this guide on erasing your digital footprint. But how do you do that if your online life now extends to the gas pump?

Release the kraken
The Internet of things is fringed by an ever-spinning web of connected pharaoh-cursed artifacts, all innocuous and unconscious parts of your life but created in the '80s and '90s when brute-force modem hacking was the state of the art. Touch one the wrong way and it'll shed its yellowed mummy wrappings and expose a hidden next-gen Cylon that bites your hand off, snatches your credit information, then beams itself back to a cloaked, cross-over-episode Klingon warbird.

We condemn those who've been breached, quietly chiding them for not locking down their Windows Server 2012 Web servers, their Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure, or the 64GB federal government thumb drives they leave in taxicabs near bars and bathhouses the world over. But we need to be demanding, not condemning.

Apparently we can't stop governments or corporations from data-digging the privacy from all our orifices, but these conveniently oblivious info hogs need to start locking down their stuff -- at least enough to keep out a 13-year-old Ukrainian kid that got bored with bullying his sister on Google+. And not just the brand-new, 80-core ProLiant Xeon E7 behemoths they bought last month, but the AS/400s they bought in 1995, the credit card readers they've had in their stores since 2002, and the computer chip firmware they haven't flashed on 5-, 10-, and 15-year-old machinery that they keep wiring to the Web because it's easier than trekking to the basement once a day. Mail sorters, check processors, bar code readers -- oh god, the list is making me nauseous. Pass the flask!

You can lock down all the curved-screen, 6G, 4K reality-enhanced smart nostrils you want, but if you ignore that 10-year-old SonicWall sitting between your invasively mined customer data and a swirling cyclone of Web malevolence, you're still as vulnerable as a high school weakling wandering around a Hells Angels biker rally.

Source: InfoWorld

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