When the ‘Internet of Things’ Attacks

30. August 2014

Date: 30-08-2014
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Joe Queenan wonders: What happens when our devices have minds of their own?

Security experts are warning that the more home appliances get linked via the “Internet of Things,” the greater the possibility is of digital mischief or mayhem. If the wireless subwoofers are linked to the voice-activated oven, which is linked to the Lexus, which is linked to the PC’s external drive, then hackers in Moscow could easily break in through your kid’s PlayStation and clean out your 401(k). The same is true if the snowblower is linked to the smoke detector, which is linked to the laptop, which is linked to your cash-strapped grandma’s bank account. A castle is only as strong as its weakest portcullis.

But the most worrisome thing isn’t the possibility of having your short-term bond funds liquidated or your identity stolen. A more terrifying threat is a wave of maddening global nuisance-making carried out by entry-level terrorists or local teens who don’t appreciate your McCain/Palin 2008 car decal. Consider this scenario:
Your fridge is programmed to alert you when you need more milk. It may even be programmed to order the milk and arrange for delivery. Then hackers break in and reprogram the fridge to order thousands of gallons of banana-flavored soy milk every week. Or carloads of coconut water. Or immense quantities of goat cheese. Anything to bust your chops. Or maybe they program the fridge to lie about expiration dates, leaving you with curdled milk, rotten eggs and smelly, decaying asparagus. Thanks, Internet of Things! Thanks a bunch! Read the rest of this entry »