Future Crimes Week 8: Chapter 13 and 14

Chapter 13: Home Hacked Home

Candid Camera: Cameras are becoming a more integral part of society whether it be a smartphone camera used to take a selfie, or a security camera used to protect a vault full of money. As cameras get more and more connected to the internet of things, it is important to remember that cameras are simply screens and as Goodman has previously discussed, can be very deceptive.

From Carjacking to Car Hacking: As cars get more incorporated into the IoT, the vulnerabilities attached to other devices part of the IoT also become vulnerabilities to cars. Goodman gives examples that range from remotely unlocking a car, to terrorism via GPS car.

“For just under $30, hackers can build a hardware device, such as the CAN Hacking Tool, which, when plugged into your car’s onboard computer network, allows them to remotely seize control of your vehicle’s lights, locks, and steering and brake systems”.

Again, it seems to be a trend that many of the materials that Crime Inc. has access to can also be easily accessible to the general public.

“Couldn’t a rogue employee at OnStar thus turn off a hundred thousand or a million cars? Through GM would surely deny it, once the back door has been built into the car, protecting it from abuse becomes a profound challenge and creates the opportunity for widespread infrastructure attacks by both hackers and nation-states alike”

When beginning to read this book, this is the first example that I had thought of as my family is an OnStar customer. The service so far has been great in providing directions, and in the one instance where an accident had occurred was great in making sure that those in the vehicle were not injured in any way. With that being said, customers are undoubtedly voluntary handing over information about our location, and whatever else is in the ten page terms of service agreement that customers sign. If they were to listen to our conversations in the car, there would be no way for any customer to know.

“With terrorists potentially packing explosives into a self-driving car aimed at a specific destination”

When thinking about the possibility of a self-driving car, I mostly saw positives, but this idea alone makes me want to not have it manufactured.

Home Hacked Home: Similar to last chapter’s ideas, Goodman reminds readers that they are bringing many smart devices in our homes that are connected to the IoT. While convenient at first, these same gadgets increase the vulnerability of the actual home to hackers, and make it more likely to leak data to data brokers.

“Many brands have been found to contain security vulnerabilities, such as Samsung Smart TVs, which allowed hackers to remotely turn on the built-in camera meant for Skype calls and surreptitiously snap photographs and watch viewers in their living rooms and bedrooms”

Just like the incident with the school handing out laptops to spy on their students, this kind of vulnerability is unacceptable. Moore’s law is not helping the situation either as more and more of the non-smart TVs are rotating out of many retail stores quicker than companies are able to patch Smart TV firmware to seal up vulnerabilities.

What The Outlet Knows: Internet advertising giants like Google are seeing the value in IoT devices and are beginning to purchase them in order to collect the massive amounts of data that these devices leak. The thermostat Nest collects data about everything from what temperature the inhabitants of the house prefer, to when the family is on vacation.

Business Attacks and Building Hacks: IoT devices aren’t only a problem for the individual consumer, but also large companies and buildings. A few examples from the section include the unlocking of cell doors at a prison, and the manipulation of screens at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Just like houses, buildings that are moderated by devices connected to the IoT, are open to attack and can be even more destructive due to how valuable some of them are.

The Smart City Operating System: IoT devices will not be confined to indoor locations, but will be integrated all throughout the city. These devices will be attached to many services from transportation, to water supply, and electricity.

“The less sanguine perspective on a citywide operating system would be a municipal network of IoT-enabled devices, always on and subject to attack from hackers anywhere in the world”.

This was the premise of a video game I played a few years ago called Watch Dogs. The game was based in an IoT-enabled city where players played as the protagonist who was a hacker able to manipulate the IoT devices around the city in order to fight the corrupt government controlling it. The game came under a lot of controversy, with some saying that it encourages young adults to look into hacking and cyber crime. I think that the game portrays perfectly the future that we are heading down, even with the little details that the game developers decided to include. At 45 seconds for example, there is a poster that says “28 percent less crime”. I can definitely see a future where the government would advertise technology increasing the quality of life, while not mentioning the many vulnerabilities that an IoT enabled city inevitably will have.

Chapter 14: Hacking You

“We Are All Cyborgs Now”: Devices connected to the IoT are being currently integrated into the body. Within the next few years, these devices will continue to rise in popularity and make it passed the medical field, and will focus more on giving humans enhanced abilities.

“These devices amount to not just external brains but also phantom limbs to which we are persistently attached, deeply anxious when they are far away or accidentally left behind”

The statement “I cannot live without my phone” may sound like an exaggeration but it is closer to the truth than most think. While on vacation over the summer, my phone ran out of battery and I felt completely helpless. When I wanted to avoid a conversation with a relative there was no phone for me to pretend to look at, when I wanted to find the quickest route back to the hotel I was forced to use a map, and when I wanted to take a picture of Niagara falls, I had no phone to do it. Phones replace so many other devices that not having it makes me feel so disabled.

More Than Meets the Eye: The World of Wearable Computing: Wearable technology is also on the rise, coming in different forms. Smartwatches or fitness bands for example keep track of our fitness (while leaking data), and google glass connects us to the internet and interprets all the information we see around us.

You’re Breaking My Heart: The Dangers of Implantable Computers: Implantable medical devices are becoming more common as they are incredibly useful in keeping track of the data that their host’s body produces. Over time these devices will become even smaller than they are now making them the mainstream alternative to other external medical devices. They will also be connected to the IoT which creates multiple dangerous scenarios for everyone that has one of these devices in their bodies.

“You have sixty minutes to transfer $10,000 in Bitcoin to this account or we will deliver an 830-volt shock to your heart. Tick, tock, tick, tock, might go the refrain”

I feel like it is almost a certainty that something similar to this scenario will occur. Once the technology for these devices begin to surface, they will most likely be rushed in production and be distributed without the proper security measures to ensure that no one will be able to control these devices without certified authorization. Even if there were security measures that were added to these devices, Crime Inc. and their abundance of different tools and programs will likely find a way to get passed it.

“Physicians and forensic pathologists have absolutely no training in computer forensics. How, then, will they possibly be able to determine the cause of death? They won’t, and the threat we face from medical device insecurity means that in the future it may be even more possible to get away with murder”

When Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers Get a Virus: Implantable devices will also be able to give humans many enhancements that can only be seen from superheroes and science fiction. Bionics such as exoskeletons for example, will be able to provide those who can afford it superhuman abilities.

“Imagine the future of street gang warfare when both Crisps and Bloods have access to these tools and begin battling it out on the streets of your city or when Crime, Inc. sends an exoskeleton clad enforcer knocking on your door to collect on that gambling debt you owe”

The idea of bionics can be very helpful to the many people suffering from various diseases that affect their mobility and other functions of the body. I don’t think that they should be available to the public because those who can afford them will have a massive advantage over those who cannot. For an employer looking for a new recruit, there is absolutely no benefit in taking a non-cyborg applicant over another one with an implant who may have more brainpower, or is physically more capable. In school, if a child comes from a family who is able to implant the child from birth, they will inherently be more successful than their peers who do not have implants. I could see these devices increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots with the have nots having no way to level the playing field.

Fingers Crossed (and Hacked): Biometrics are being implemented into more devices and are advertised as more secure as no one will be able to replicate fingerprints and other unique attributes of the body. This assumption is incorrect as Crime Inc. has already figured out how to bypass biometric scanners. In Touch ID’s case, Crime Inc. was able to bypass Apple’s “revolutionary” new security measure within a few days.

Your Password? It’s Written All Over Your Face: Goodman discusses facial recognition software and the possible problems that may arise with its integration with IoT. All the data derived from the internet is now directly attached to one’s face (unless you are part of the 2% that facial recognition software fails to identify correctly). Every piece of information even the less appealing secrets that we may have is directly related to us. Future technology like google glass, may even give us this information while walking down the street.

Every time that Goodman brings up a future gadget or innovation, I get excited by the prospects that it could possibly bring into the lives of individuals and society as a whole. In this case, law enforcement can definitely use this technology in order to identify criminals on the street. The problem is, everyone else also has access to this technology which will no doubt create new social dynamics as we have an insight into each other’s lives more so than we have ever had before.

On Your Best Behavior: Goodman brings up a concept similar to Panopticon where the knowledge of being watched will make us alter our behavior. With all the cameras, and tracking devices that we are integrating into our lives, we might be heading down a future where we begin to self-sensor to the point that we lose part of ourselves to our censorship.

Augmenting Reality: AR is the software integrated into devices such as google glass that allow the user to interpret the world around them. Looking at a landmark for example, prompts the interface to bring up a google search of the landmark providing all the historical information related to the subject. Of course, Crime Inc. can also manipulate this software in order to private information they may use against us.

The Rise of Homo virtualis: The virtual world is becoming an increasingly more appealing place to live in. Whether it be through an MMORPG like Warcraft, or the several VR devices coming out within the next year, the virtual world will definitely increase in population. Crime Inc. can however find ways to exploit the rules of the virtual world and even take our virtual currency. “As virtual reality continues to improve exponentially, the distinctions between our virtual and our physical selves will continue to erode as well”.

I can’t help but be excited by virtual reality due to the many possibilities that the technology brings. While I would love to get my hands on the Oculus as soon as possible, I do fear that future software for VR may prove to be an alternative for some over the real world. On release, I think that the software available will not be enough to be completely addictive (although I could be wrong with Netflix, Youtube, etc.), but in the future I can imagine a company creating life simulator where the user can look however they want to, sound however they want to, and be the perfect version of themselves that they always wanted. I worry that people will not realize that their online personas are simply compilations of pixels and coding, and that they need to live in the real world and have VR as a secondary world.