It should be noted, to no one’s surprise and to the continually voiced proclamations of our elders, the world is full of crap.
There are precious few, truly, well made things, and most of those you are blissfully unaware of or barely ever willingly ever interact with. The things that are “not-crap” tend to include items like a light bulb in a Livermore fire station that has continued to burn for well over 100 years, or a dam created in the post-Depression era National Work Project years, which was completely overbuilt mostly because the goal was to get labor working, not save a few bucks.
Of course, “The more one understands something, the more one realizes how horribly broken that thing is” holds true and i’m gleefully unaware of how few lumens the light bulb casts or how little power the dam can generate.
That’s kind of my point, really. i’m also fully aware of my contributions to the huge amount of pervasive crap in the world.
At some point, societies innocence got the upper hand and we started believing that the people building our future were competent. They were the white coated geniuses who’s benevolence gifted us treasures from the future. Not only had they somehow crafted a bidet for our feline friends, but they allowed us to remotely monitor it through the interwebs and give Tiddles positive encouragement. What a wondrous future we live in!
At no time did anyone ask, about how this device is secured, if it’s properly constructed, or who would pay for the post encounter kitty therapy session. All of these are important questions that need to be asked by someone other than the claims adjuster or investigating police officer. Yet, we don’t. We welcome things like “In-Car Internet” without wondering who’s holding the information about our travel and usage. We welcome open microphones into our homes because they give us the weather report, as well as constantly listen to conversations and audio (including frequencies we may not be able to hear).
New technology is massively complicated in ways that we can’t quite wrap our heads around, and that includes the folks making it up. It’s possible to have a full computer, running a very real operating system on something as small as a stack of quarters. This means that if there’s a way to get in, an attacker has unlimited ability to modify or control that device. Likewise, “Unintended Use” is a very, very real thing. Something crafted for the most innocent of reasons could be used for some of the most nefarious, because folks who created it simply don’t think evil enough.
It’s a bit like having a front door that has a combination lock, only the lock works off of only the final rotation of the dial, or used a key, but only one of the tumblers was active. Chances are pretty darn good you’d never bother to check. Heck, your lock could well be doing this right now and you’d be none the wiser.
So, what do you do? i’m not suggesting we all become neo-amish and post things to the barn wall, but maybe we ought to be a bit more reluctant to believe that digital utopia awaits the next pre-order.
Honestly, on this side of the digital fence, i’d love to proclaim the upcoming year “Digital Infrastructure Year”. Where we, as an industry, stop creating stuff and actually spend a year shoring up critical elements. Granted, it’ll be hard to sell that to the folks who have money to pay for things, but sometimes you gotta pay your taxes. We spend time closing some of the massive holes that let things like the recent DDoS attacks happen, or beefing up crypto so that communication and storage are actually secure, or any of the thousands of bugs and issues that folks have been told to ignore.
Yeah, i know, i know. It’s a lovely idea, but turns out, it’s full of crap too.