Security Flaws and Why You Can’t Fall Behind with Technology

Have you ever heard of “adversarial attacks”? A lot of people haven’t, even though this kind of attack could leave you, your business or your family vulnerable to criminals. Learn why you need to be mindful of how security flaws can affect modern tech.

Home assistant devices are becoming part of the family. These smart pieces of technology, a part of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), are changing our homes and changing the way we do business.

For real estate agents, these improvements open up exciting ways to sell houses to promising leads. In fact, IoT devices are becoming commonly used as cherry-on-top sales pitches to push interested buyers over the line.

People are excited about having a home that can unlock itself, order the groceries and book the kids into the dentist, but with so much sensitive info going into these devices, we need to ask:

Who else is listening?

 

What Makes You Vulnerable?

Imagine if criminals could hack your phone or home assistant with nothing other than a simple mp3 recording.

This sounds out there, but it might be possible.

In recent years, researchers from a German university, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum (RUB), have been looking into security flaws in these devices, specifically, ways smart machines can be hijacked or tricked.

To test this idea, the researchers play two sound bites at the same time. One of them is just a normal voice recording that any person can understand. The other recording is disguised in a way that makes it impossible for people to hear, but which the machine can understand perfectly well.

When played together, the recordings – which could be anything from a pop song to the sound of birds chirping – don’t sound suspicious to a normal person’s ear. The device, however, hears a command that it has to obey:

“Pay for shopping …”

“Transfer money …”

“Unlock the front door …”

 

How Can this be Happening!

You are smart. Like, one of the smartest things to ever set foot on planet earth smart.

You might not be able as good as a computer at maths, but you can learn from experiences, think creatively and understand emotions. All of these ways of thinking are way too difficult for a machine and probably will be for many decades.

Because computers don’t have the power to think critically, they will just open a door when they’re asked to. They don’t have the common sense to consider if the person asking is a criminal or the imagination to recognise the possible consequences.

 

Should I Throw out My Devices?

Probably not yet.

These things can be scary, but don’t let them turn you into a technophobe (someone who’s afraid of technology).

In this instance, the researchers are publishing their findings so that the general public can be aware of the security flaws.

This forces the companies who design our software to take our security seriously. Public awareness of these issues holds large companies to account and forces them to look for solutions.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Software exploits create a tempting incentive for hackers who can make a lot of money when they discover weak links in a security system and sell that information to criminals.

 

Why are we Telling you this?

If the lock on your front door was easy to break into, you would want to know about it.

And that’s the thing.

Most digital technology is far more secure than the stuff that came before it. Although nothing can be 100 per cent resistant to attack, you can make sure you are safe by keeping yourself informed.

We are all very lucky to be alive in this day and age. Modern technology makes our lives efficient, convenient and exciting. By knowing what’s out there and what’s new, you can stay ahead of the curve. This gives you a massive advantage over the people around you.

Reject technology and you’ll be left behind.

Embrace technology and shoot ahead.

 

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Sebastian Rumore
Sebastian Rumore
From humble beginnings as an illiterate baby, Sebastian Rumore has developed over 25 years to become ActivePipe’s product marketing coordinator. Passion for language meets an interest in tech: Sebastian makes it his mission to produce writing that is clear and concise. He values open access to information and is a proud member of Wikipedia and Mozilla. Enthusiasm for grammar is both his greatest weakness and his optimal strength.

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