I recently read an interesting Computerworld piece on the “Internet of Things,” which talked about the many electronics and even nonelectronics (such as toilets) that are becoming and will become connected via Wi-Fi. Typically, articles like this one go on about all the cool things that these new devices will bring us, including a refrigerator that will text you when you are out of milk or better yet that will order milk for you from the store to be delivered. Of course, outside of Cyber Monday, one of the big buzzes this week on the Web has been that, in the future, such deliveries will likely happen via an Amazon drone. This Computerworld piece, however, had nothing to do with future conveniences or sci-fi prognostications.
No, instead it discussed the threat that the “Internet of Things” will bring to us. A solid example provided has to do with a Linux bug recently discovered by Symantec. Although almost no one in the world thinks he or she uses Linux, almost everyone in the world actually does. For example, most Internet routers, TV DVRs/TiVos, DVD players, and so on, use the Linux kernel as their core operating system. So when you are navigating those menus via your tablet or remote, you are in fact using Linux.
The Linux bug was patched more than a year ago, but the interesting point made in the piece was that most vendors of these devices do not expose the operating system to the end user, nor do they make it available to update with patches. Many devices, such as Internet routers, offer firmware updates, but, again, almost none of them patch those devices automatically. This leads to the conclusion that, as everything becomes connected to the Internet, there will be an increase in the devices that have vulnerabilities, which, of course, will lead to an increase in the number of people who try to do harm. Just think of what someone could do if he or she hacked into all of those aforementioned Amazon drone delivery devices! (Hint: It wouldn’t be pretty.)
I love that we live in interesting times and am glad that I’ll be around to see how this all plays out.