More than 40 years ago, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft with a vision for putting a personal computer on every desk.
No one really believed them, so few tried to stop them. Then before anyone realized it, the deed was done: Just about everyone had a Windows machine, and governments were left scrambling to figure out how to put Microsoft's monopoly back in the bottle.
This sort of thing happens again and again in the tech industry.
The world is wired. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), pretty much every electronic device we own can now talk to each of our other devices. While it might seem fun to be able to adjust settings on your refrigerator from your cell phone or track brush strokes from your e-toothbrush app, the IoT comes with a brand new set of vulnerabilities as well. Last spring, a computer security company revealed that hackers had stolen a casino's entire database of high rollers by exploiting vulnerabilities in an Internet-connected aquarium.
A report last week from Bloomberg Businessweek suggested that Chinese spies had embedded tiny little microchips on motherboards that control computers in order to steal information from nearly 30 U.S. companies, including Apple and Amazon. Both of those companies, and Super Micro Computer Inc., the electronics maker that was allegedly infiltrated have categorically denied the report. China issued a statement in response to the report that said in part: "Supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim." But the story is lingering, in part because it brings up a very scary reality that lots of cybersecurity experts keep talking about.
The US government and Silicon Valley have designed and created an insecure world to maximize political control and corporate profit, but in the cyberphysical world we now live in, where cars, planes, trains and nuclear power plants are connected to the internet, that deliberate insecurity must be reversed — for safety reasons, or people are going to start dying, Bruce Schneier argues in his new book, Click Here to Kill Everybody (W.W. Norton & Company, 2018).
The days of "going online" are over. We now live on the internet.
Bruce Schneier, Chief Technology Officer at IBM Resilient, guests to discuss his new book, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World. We discuss how the Internet of Things (IoT) opens up new possibilities for catastrophes, how social media companies and governments follow a model of surveillance capitalism, and how the Internet can be made more secure moving forward.
Featuring Bruce Schneier, the author of Click Here to Kill Everybody in conversation with Abby Everett Jaques, MIT.
Schneier (Data and Goliath), a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, provides a clear perspective on the threat posed by the evolution of the internet into what is commonly referred to as the “internet of things.” As “everything is becoming a computer... on the Internet,” with even pedestrian items such as light bulbs or refrigerators collecting, using, and communicating data, the convenience and efficiency of such “smart” technology comes at the cost of increased vulnerability to the schemes of crafty hackers. Horror stories, such as a vehicle’s controls being taken over remotely, are not new, but Schneier’s vast experience enables him to tie together many strands and put them in context. For example, after discussing the inherent security issues with software (there are “undiscovered vulnerabilities in every piece”), Schneier goes on to observe that such flaws are only part of the problem; he convincingly demonstrates that a major, if not the main, reason, for an insecure internet is that its “most powerful architects—governments and corporations—have manipulated the network to make it serve their own interests.” Schneier concedes that his book has “a gaping hole” in not explaining how his nuanced recommendations for increasing security and resilience could become policy, but it is a useful introduction to the dimensions of the challenge.
In this week's episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bruce Schneier, about cyberattacks, cyberwar, and survival in a hyperconnected world.
Cyberattacks constitute one of the most urgent threats facing collective humanity according to Bruce Schneier. History has proven him right. In the summer of 2017, a weapon of cyberwar was dropped onto a world without borders, where the heavy artillery and nuclear warheads that defined the battlelines of the 20th century have been rendered useless.
The Center on National Security at Fordham Law hosted a discussion on Bruce Schneier's new book, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World.
Electronic security expert Bruce Schneier's studiously terrifying new book Click Here To Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World, is a concerted counter-playbook to the end of human civilization, and the deaf ears it will fall upon have been deadened by two completely erroneous assumptions: that an unregulated Internet is better than a regulated one, and that Internet problems only affect people on the Internet.
Ninety percent of Schneier's readers have more than one "smart" electronic device, be it a cellphone or a tablet or a laptop or a new-model automobile. And ninety percent of that ninety percent have the same personal password for all of those separate devices and haven't changed that password in years. Virtually every single one of Schneier's readers who choose to download his book instead of buying a printed copy in a bookstore leaves a wide and easily-followed data-trail back to themselves.
Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.
Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.