It’s hip to be scared and chill out innovation till we can secure it. That is the plain thought behind the new book Click Here to Kill Everybody, Bruce Schneier’s take on how IoT is going to wreck our lives. Basically, if it can be hacked, it will be, and the more we make dumb things smart, the easier this mischief will be able to hurt us–not our data, but our lives, health, and property.
As our Readers know, TTA has been calling out the threat to humanity since The Gimlet Eye lampooned Internet Thingys doing things against their will back in 2015 and more seriously here. (And yes, parking meters can be paid on a smartphone app in the resort burg of Cape May, NJ.) We have explored, for instance, how easy it is for Black Hats to exploit medical devices and to get into networks via fax machines and all-in-one printers.
Mr. Schneier is not a Luddite. For starters, he is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is chief technology officer of IBM Resilient, which helps companies prepare to deal with potential cyberthreats. But he can’t buy an unconnected new car (think of that eight-year-old Black Hat waiting to sabotage your steering) and you can’t get an unconnected DVR. It’s getting near-impossible to buy a dumb TV that doesn’t spy on you and to live a lifestyle that is fully disconnected unless you go ‘Life Below Zero.’
So what he is proposing is to ‘chill innovation’ as we do with medical devices and pharmaceuticals for safety’s sake. (Editor’s emphasis)
There’s no industry that’s improved safety or security without governments forcing it to do so. Again and again, companies skimp on security until they are forced to take it seriously. We need government to step up here with a combination of things targeted at firms developing internet-connected devices. They include flexible standards, rigid rules, and tough liability laws whose penalties are big enough to seriously hurt a company’s earnings.
Yes, they will chill innovation—but that’s what’s needed right now! The point is that innovation in the Internet+ world can kill you. We chill innovation in things like drug development, aircraft design, and nuclear power plants because the cost of getting it wrong is too great.
Thoughtful writing and point of view. This Editor would also make the argument about public sanitation, public water supplies, and somewhat in housing, although I would argue that the automotive industry pushed for ease of use (the self-starter) and safety long before the government was engaged, and we are sure Readers can cite more examples.
Just because we can do it technologically does not mean it is the safe, beneficial, and moral thing to do. The more you know about technology, the more you realize it’s good to be more fearful and less trusting of technology, an odd sentence for an health tech Editor to write. But she does like living in one peaceful piece. Think about that when you hear the next Rhapsody about All-Electric Self-Driving Cars, Trucks, and Scooter and How Wonderful They Will Be. MIT Technology Review