‘It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity’
– Albert Einstein.
As technology develops, so do our lives. We are now inhabiting a world where technology enhances, and integrates with most aspects of our lives. From the ability to get a near infinite amount of information in a matter of seconds to controlling the majority of our household items; technology, and perhaps more specifically, the internet is all around us.
In parallel to these life-enhancing developments, a counter-development process is occurring. One that seeks to steal our information, cause us harm and reduce our quality of life. With every new technological development, there is someone trying to bring it down or use it for a malicious, alternate purpose. This has been shown in several high profile cases:
A group of determined hackers and nefarious social engineers, bypassed the outdated single-step authentication process ‘protecting’ Apple’s iCloud leading to the release of a cache of intimate photographs of several high-profile celebrities. In the wake of these ‘Celebrity Hacks’ there has been a rush to increase the security surrounding smartphones with Apple’s iOS 8 and Google’s upcoming Android update featuring encryption by default and Apple now implementing a two-factor authentication system.
This year has seen a growing concern over the ‘hackability’ of cars. With the majority of modern cars having some form of internet connection and the cars themselves only having one (non-isolated) electronic system, the ability of someone to hack into the car’s on board media system and through that gain access to the power steering and anti-lock braking system is now a known threat. This is particularly pertinent as by 2020 several prominent car manufacturers believe that the majority of cars will be driverless for most of the time.
Since 2008 it has been possible, using various technological means, to hack remotely some pacemakers controlling the rhythm of people’s hearts. In 2012, the then prominent hacker Barnaby Jack (who later died of a suspected accidental drugs overdose) demonstrated how simple it was to assassinate someone by overriding and reversing their pacemaker to deliver a very large electric shock to the victim, something which prompted former US Vice-President Dick Cheney to have the wireless function on his pacemaker switched off. This shocking finding came on the back of a demonstration where Barnaby Jack also showed the ease with which diabetic’s insulin pumps can be hacked.
Phones, cars and hearts. Three major things that keep us going in the modern world that have all been shown to be uncomfortably easy to hack. In the ever-developing western hemisphere, where one of most prominent measures of success is the amount of technology at our disposal, we are leaving ourselves more and more open to Cyber attack as people seek to do us harm and disrupt the positive effects of technology, in order to impact massively on our physical lives. With predictions that the first ‘online murder’ will occur before the end of the year, it is time to ask really whether our technology has indeed surpassed our humanity?