smart appliances1

I don't know Violet Blue, and trying to read her twitter feed leaves me more confused rather than less, but I do know this: when she wrote her recent article about "The coming smart-thing apocalypse", she missed a huge opportunity. I mean, obviously, it should have been The Coming of the Smart ThingPocalypse (TM), in the spirit of Sharknado and other portmanteaus that have come to define this part of our cultural history.

That aside, though, it was nice to read an article about securios IoT security implications in a "mainstream" online publication rather than some obscure IT journal or security-focused newsletter. There have certainly been plenty of IoT related hacks and messes covered by folks like Engadget and Gizmodo, but Blue's piece on the larger security implications of having everything connected to the Internet is interesting. Unlike so many others, Blue is quick to note that while the hacking of "things" is certainly already a reality, that's not the thing we should be worried about as more devices become connected:

Seriously, it's not "the hackers" I worry about. (Yes, I have tape over every camera and microphone in the house, but who doesn't these days?) No, what I worry about with things like WiFi thermostats and smart versions of boilers, locks, lamps, microwaves, dishwashers, dryers, outlets and smoke detectors is their software. And, like all things with software in them, a dev somewhere probably meant to send it for a code audit, or eliminate the hard-coded password, or file a patch, or tell comms that customers urgently need to update the firmware on their smart toilet. But ultimately they were distracted by the chance to eat a dozen tacos for $2.

Granted, there are some cases where we do need to worry about hackers. For example, popular electronic locks will have exploit kits published, sold to the highest bidder, and ultimately implemented on $0.99 apps. And of course there's a very real danger that critical infrastructure and industrial equipment may be hacked by true black hats bent on profit or just mayhem and destruction. But for the most part I expec that any ThingPocalypse -- should one actually happen -- is going to be more about lights that don't turn on, or maybe they turn the toaster oven off when they do, rather than a concerted effort by criminal masterminds to take control of your house and make your smart fridge show porn.

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