PF Nov ’16 IoT benefits/privacy

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

There is now an IoT folder, since there have been more articles this past week than individual posting to this blog can cover. The LD-Values folder has a Privacy subfolder that may be of use as well.

Know your acronyms: DDoS and DNS are relevant now, since the recent IoT hack was used to launch a Distributed Denial of Service attack (bombarding sites with access requests, with the purpose of overloading their ability to handle incoming traffic) of a DNS (Domain Name Service) firm (how the Internet translates typed addresses to the numerical Internet Protocol addresses that the Internet really operates on). There were three waves of attacks domestically, and one noted yesterday in Singapore.

Takeaways: I said prior to the DDoS attack that the IoT was hackable; that’s now been proven. The weaknesses exploited mostly had to do with poor device password protection; one manufacturer in China has recalled millions of video cameras to beef up their security.

While the Con side will likely talk about the exploit, there’s a two-fold Pro reply. First, such gaps can be plugged by better software, and even by hardware upgrades (the ARM article in the IoT folder). Second, the issues this past week were about a DDoS attack, which is not something that necessarily compromises privacy – no harm, no foul. Con’s response is that everything is hackable, even with beefed-up software and hardware, and while this attack didn’t jeopardize privacy as such it doesn’t take much of an extension of matters to realize that commandeering someone’s IoT devices will be a privacy threat. (I still think that the biggest privacy threat will come from the owners of the IoT software and hardware collecting information on the operation of their devices. Such information could either be hacked itself, as credit card databases are currently, or sold/used for commercial purposes [monetizing the information]. Businesses exist to make money; providing you with a useful service isn’t the purpose of the business, simply the means to make money.)

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