By B.N. Frank
Even though tech companies, enthusiasts, and proponents (including legislators and government agencies) continue to promote smart cities, smart streetlights, smart thermostats, smart utility meters (electric, gas, and water), smart appliances, smart medical devices, smart security systems, smart speakers, smart wearables (see 1, 2, 3), smartphones, etc., there is no denying the numerous significant and sometimes life-threatening issues that have also been reported about ALL “Smart” technology.
“Smart” tech is extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks. It also enables manufacturers and operators to collect (and share) private data often without our knowledge or consent. Of course, expert warnings about this have been reported countless times over many years already. Recently a new book was published to remind us again.
From Gov Tech:
Book Review: ‘If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable’
This review covers Mikko Hypponen’s latest book, If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable. This is an excellent book that is highly recommended.
Mikko Hypponen is known around the world for extensive expertise in many areas of cybersecurity. His personal website describes him this way: “Mikko Hypponen is a global security expert, speaker and author. He works as the chief research officer at WithSecure and as the Principal Research Adviser at F-Secure.
“Mr. Hypponen has written on his research for The New York Times, Wired and Scientific American and he appears frequently on international TV. He has lectured at the universities of Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge.
“He was selected among the 50 most important people on the web by the PC World magazine and was included in the FP Global 100 Thinkers list. Mr. Hypponen sits in the advisory boards of t2 and Safeguard Cyber.”
Here is one keynote sample from Mr. Hypponen:
IF IT’S SMART, IT’S VULNERABLE
Here’s a brief list of some of the high-level topics covered in the book:
- “The Good and Bad of the Internet”
- “Malware – Then, Now and in the Future”
- “The History of Malware”
- “Law Enforcement Malware”
- “Ransomware Trojans”
- “The Human Element”
- “What If the Network Goes Down?”
- “Online Privacy”
- “Technology, Espionage and Warfare Online”
- “The Future”
The first thing that surprised me with this book were some excellent history lessons. I found the book to provide an excellent overview of online life over the past three decades of Hypponen’s career.
Second, I loved stories he told on a diverse set of topics. Here is one sample from a section called “Lunch Break at Google”:
“While visiting Google on business, I had a chat with some of the developers and researchers over lunch. I brought up the topics of government espionage and foreign intelligence organizations with my dozen or so colleagues around the table, stating that intelligence organizations from a number of countries are probably trying to gain access to Google’s data. My colleagues nodded their heads in approval. I went on to say that there have been and will be attacks and that some attempts may have gone unnoticed. Once again, my associates were in unanimous agreement. Then I added that, since Google invests so much into their security, the logical way to get at its data would be to use traditional espionage and moles, that is to infiltrate Google with spies who join its payroll and try to gain appointment to key positions.
“One of the Google staff across the table said that this was likely and that moles were probably already working at Google, with nobody knowing who they were. A silence fell upon the company, and those around me exchanged glances. We finished our lunch in a much less conversational mood.”
Third, I found the insights and ideas expressed to be thought-provoking and helpful for the general reader and not just for cybersecurity experts or hackers. The Amazon website describes the book this way: “Sometimes it seems like every single one of our devices and gadgets — from our refrigerators to our stereos, home security systems, and even our vacuum cleaners — are going online. But have we considered what this new age of Internet-connected devices means for our security, our privacy, and ourselves?
“In If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable, veteran cybersecurity professional Mikko Hypponen delivers a startlingly insightful discussion of the best — and worst — things the Internet has brought to our doorstep. From instant connectivity to any place or person around the globe to organized ransomware gangs, the web is the dictionary definition of ‘mixed blessing.’ The author explores the transformative potential of the future of the Internet in the context of existential threats that promise to turn everything we love about the web on its head: government surveillance, censorship, organized crime, and more.
“Perfect for anyone looking for an eye-opening treatment of some of the most pressing and important issues in cybersecurity and technology, If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable also belongs on the bookshelves of business leaders, tech enthusiasts, futurists, and anyone else with even a passing interest in the future of communication and computing.
“Readers will also find:
- Engaging stories from the author’s 30 years in the information security space
- Explorations of how the Internet has changed the world, for better and for worse
- Expansive treatments of how money became data and the impact of the widespread use of mobile supercomputers
- Discussions of how law enforcement and intelligence agencies operate clandestinely on the Internet”
I highly recommend this book as an excellent read for anyone in the technology or security fields who wants to learn more about the industry and future of cybersecurity. I enjoyed Mikko’s easy-to-read writing style and approach to this topic. His wealth of experience and fascinating stories bring the topics alive.
Bottom line: I encourage you to read this book.
Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Wireless Information Network
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter Harm
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- Take Back Your Power
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
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