Friday, 7 March 2014

Computer and network security in the robot age

In response to: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/03/theres-no-real-difference-between-online-espionage-and-online-attack/284233/

It doesn't matter if you are "just" eavesdropping or if you are trying to cause damage directly. If you are trying to take control over somebody else's property; trying to make it do things that the owner of that property did not intend and does not want, then surely that is a form of theft?

Possession isn't just about holding something in your hand: It is also about power and control.

The implications of this might be a little hard to see, because right now computers don't have very much direct interaction with the "real" world.... but it won't be like that forever. 

Take me, for example. I am working on systems to control autonomous vehicles: Networked computers in charge of a car or a truck.

This is just the beginning. In a decade or more, it won't just be cars and trucks on the road that drive themselves: airborne drones; and domestic robots of every size and shape will be everywhere you look.

What would the world look like if we allowed a party or parties unknown to seize control of all these computers? What kind of chaos and carnage could a malicious actor cause?

We have an opportunity right now. A tremendous gift. We need to put in place the infrastructure that will make this sort of wholesale subversion impossible; or, at the very least, very very much harder than it is today, and we need to do it before the stakes become raised to a dangerous degree.