Criticizing Technology: A Dangerous Game

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On Friday, December 5th, I had the distinct pleasure of presenting at the White Hat event held at the IoD in London. I decided to be a little controversial in my talk, so I ran up a presentation called ‘The Wax Switch,’ which in a nutshell provided a history of some of my experiences to date. I have worked with a number of organizations over the course of my career, including oil and gas companies that could not find their way out of a brown paper bag (even if the route to security was signposted) as well as security managers who were more interested in reporting into management dashboards than attending to a network compromise. I also consulted on the deployment of a number of PCI-DSS systems, which were reported as compliant but which were in reality open to abuse and compromise.

To conclude my presentation, I stated that at this point in time in 2014, we are far too tied in our technologies. We are dependent on it always being there to service our needs and purpose, which leaves us vulnerable to unexpected attacks.

And then, as if by magic, lightning struck twice in the same place.

Strike one hit its target on the day following my presentation when our Infinity Broadband decided to change its profile and turned into Dog-Band, serving up such a low bandwidth that I couldn’t even watch a game of rugby without the screen dissolving into an ocean of confused pixels whenever a player decided to move on the field. Then of course, during the service call to the BT First Line Support, I had to unplug every single extra bit of connected kit in my home and its associated office. This meant I couldn’t work currently. They tested it again, but it is still running very, very slow. It was frustrating, to say the least, but I was contented by the fact that I could book my East Midlands Trains Ticket to London for my trip on Monday, so I didn’t get too frustrated.

Strike two came on Sunday evening. Arriving at the Automated Ticketing Machine, of which there is only one, I discovered that the machine had suffered a service outage and was not operational. Given the fact that I live in what may be referred to as the ‘sticks,’ I was stuffed again and couldn’t get my travel documents. I had no choice to see what I could work out with the train manager en route to my train.

Strike three is no doubt waiting in the wings somewhere. Whether it comes now or later is irrelevant. What matters is if you criticise technology in an open forum, as I did on Friday during my White Hat presentation, technology will get you back.

About Professor John Walker – FMFSoc FBCS FRSA CITP CISM CRISC ITPC
john_walkerVisiting Professor at the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Visiting Professor/Lecturer at the University of Slavonia [to 2015], Independent Consultant, Practicing Expert Witness, ENISA CEI Listed Expert, Editorial Member of the Cyber Security Research Institute (CRSI), Fellow of the British Computer Society (BCS), Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA), Board Advisor to the Digital Trust, Writer for SC Magazine UK, Originator of DarkWeb Threat Intelligence, CSIRT, Attack Remediation and Cyber Training Service/Platform, Accreditation Assessor and Academic Practitioner and Accredited Advisor to the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in the area of Digital/Cyber Forensics.
Twitter: @SBLTD

John Walker is also our Panel member.  To find out more about our panel members visit the biographies page.

 

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