By Kevin Samson
The new “smart world” that we are embarking upon as an increasing number of our computerized devices and objects become part of The Internet of Things has promised more convenience and more efficiency. And, yet, not a day seems to pass without a report about hacking.
While malware, election rigging, and corporate attacks tend to take center stage, a disturbing amount of very personal cyber invasions are also on the rise. Here is just a small sampling of articles that represent the dangerous and the downright creepy side of connecting one’s life to the Internet.
- Hackers Expose New Method For Disabling Vehicles
- Smart Homes Reveal User Behavior, Prone to Hacks: Study
- “Smart” Houses Added to List of Hacker Threats
- Australia’s Smart Meter Hacking Vulnerability Claims
- NSA Cyber War Will Use Internet of Things as Weapons Platform; Your Home is the Battlefield
- Smart Neighborhood Watch 2025
- New Bill Would ALLOW British Intelligence to Hack Children’s Toys to Spy on People in Their Homes
- Scary Grid: Baby Monitor Hacked to Play ‘Eerie Music,’ Tell Parent ‘You Are Being Watched’
By now it should be obvious, even to a child, that we have a problem here. Well, in fact, it might just be a child who can help wake up the world to the scope of the issue.
An AFP article titled “Cyber Kid Stuns Experts Showing Toys Can Be ‘Weapons’” has gone viral. 11-year-old Reuben Paul took the stage at the World Forum cyber security conference in The Hague.
“From airplanes to automobiles, from smart phones to smart homes, anything or any toy can be part of the” Internet of Things (IOT),” he said, a small figure pacing the huge stage at the World Forum in The Hague.
“From terminators to teddy bears, anything or any toy can be weaponised.”
“IOT home appliances, things that can be used in our everyday lives, our cars, lights refrigerators, everything like this that is connected can be used and weaponised to spy on us or harm us.”
Reuben demonstrated this fact by first obtaining the numbers of audience members via their Bluetooth connection, then taking one of the numbers to hack into his toy teddy bear. The bear now became a surveillance and recording device.
Although 11-year-old Reuben does appear to be a bona fide “cyber ninja” whiz kid, AFP‘s contention that this “stunned experts” stretches the truth a bit. Listen here to a 2012 speech given by DARPA’s Program Manager, Dr. Kathleen Fisher. Sound familiar?
Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that young Reuben is on his way to work for the dark side. Instead he is shouting from the rooftop that we are entering a very dangerous new world where the things around us become “timebombs” as he calls them. Reuben also isn’t stopping with giving speeches to the “experts”; he has formed the CyberShaolin non-profit organisation “to inform kids and adults about the dangers of cyber insecurity.” Let’s hope that Reuben will indeed spearhead a new way forward to fix what the adults in the room should have properly addressed all along.