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Computer Security No 14: The Impotance of Passwords
Corporate Computer Security
Why 'Smart' objects may be a dumb idea & "my toothbrush hacked my toaster"
Twenty years ago, while working in Telstra Research Labs, I was concerned about the internet fridge and internet microwave oven projects and hoped we won't get to that in my time.
Think back to the car industry of the 1970s, where Lee Lacocca (former Vice President of Ford) decided to introduce a subcompact car to gain market share. The Pinto car proved to have a fault and many people died on impact in crashes as the fuel tank was prone to erupt in flames due to a design fault. Ford decided to way up the pure monetary cost of compensation per fatality against the cost of fixing the design flaw and determined that each fatality would result in an average of US$200K in compensation.
Fixing the design flaw would cost $11 per vehicle. Based on this they decided not to fix the design flaw as it would have amounted to US$137m vs US$49m in expected future compensation payouts. It is believed that an estimated 500 deaths and hundreds more injuries resulted from the design fault before the model was finally recalled in 1978.
Fast forward to 2016, today we are seeing countless internet connected technology. In a recent article published in the NY times by Zeynep Tufekci, she describes the enormous security risks associated with 'bleeding edge' technology (fridges, even lifts can be easily hacked, the latest Chrysler Jeep Cherokee, baby monitors, thermostats, security cameras, Brink safes, etc).
At the DefCon hackers conference in Vegas, one can watch how easy it is to fake death and births records in Victoria (Australia), break into Brinks safes, and many others, all done for fun.
The equation and business case is the same as in the car industry: it is too expensive to fix up the security!
To quote a hacker, I might complain one day that "my toothbrush hacked my toaster". www.nytimes.com
Moderated by Monica Schlesinger: www.advisoryboardsgroup.com.au
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