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The Home Invasion Of The Future

Giles CrouchGuest Post: Giles Crouch is one of Canada’s leading thinkers on issues relating to our digital world including social media and civil society. He brings 20 years experience in the technology industry, including co-founding two software companies; a .com and a Big Data analytics firm.  You can connect with Giles on LinkedIn or Twitter.

The commute home was a nightmare; a few accidents and sluggish drivers. You’re exhausted, you’ve picked up the kids. You just want to be home. It’s a chilly autumn night too, so you launched your HomeLife app on your smart phone, told the furnace to heat up the house, the oven to start warming up and the outside lights to turn on as well as a few inside lights. You pull into the driveway, anticipating a nice chicken and that apple pie you bought yesterday.

But the outside lights aren’t on. Nor can you see any inside lights on. App must be wonky you think. You approach the door, hit the button on your phone for the door to unlock as the kids crowd around you. Door doesn’t open. Ah, you think, maybe the home hub control is down. So you fish out your key and use the old-fashioned manual lock. Been years you chuckle to yourself, since you used a real key! The house is dark. And cold.

You go in and flick a switch. No lights come on. Power out? You look up at the ceiling to your smoke detector, both the battery light and power connected lights show power on. A glance in the kitchen and the oven clock is on.

The Dreaded Text Arrives
Just then a text pops up on your phone screen. It tells you your house is being held hostage. If you want it back, you’ll have to etransfer $500 to a number it provides. If not, then they’ll start doing random things to your house, perhaps even cranking the furnace so a fire might happen.

You’d heard of this before so you call your insurance company. They dispatch a security specialist who will come and fix it for you. But it’s a $250 deductible.

Considering The Unintended Consequences
This is a scenario. But the concept comes from current issues of ransomeware where people’s computers are held hostage until a fee is paid. This could be an unintended consequence of the Internet of Everything.

A lot of “attacks” taking place in recent months, like Shellshock, have been targeting infrastructure. Printer manufacturers like HP have had issues with their devices being hacked and hackers post lists of devices that can be accessed.

Manufacturers that build connectivity into their devices are going to have to take security a lot more seriously than they have. The incentive will be the lawsuits that will come from consumers. This is an issue we’ll likely face.

What do you think about the Internet of Everything?