By Erica Lee
The release of the sequel to “Watch_Dogs,” an action-adventure video game series that revolve around a hacker’s path to justice, vigilantism, and revenge, provokes some questions about how secure our wireless devices are. Can someone actually hack into hundreds of devices, stealing identities and controlling street lights, at the press of a single button, just as players can in “Watch_Dogs?” Unfortunately, they can.
Hackers have repeatedly shown their capabilities to crack into various major social media platforms, international government websites, local traffic camera and control systems, and even nuclear plants. Although the latter few instances are not nearly as common, malicious websites and malware are ubiquitous. In fact, in March of 2016, Google reported that over 50 million users have received warnings when visiting malicious websites or downloading malware, and a 2011 Ponemon Research survey revealed that 90% of companies have been hacked over the past year. Considering the large number of reported hacking incidents and the sheer number of people who have their devices connected to wireless networks, privacy and security is nearly nonexistent. By exploiting unprotected wireless devices like smart refrigerators, a hacker can infiltrate the rest of the devices connected to the same system in fractions of a second. This hopefully makes you rethink whether you actually want to buy all of those recently released “smart” appliances.
Hacking can cause a lot of malice and destruction, not only in terms of Internet safety but also physical dangers. For example, during the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent a Trojan horse, a misleading virus that seems initially harmless, to a Russian gas pipeline control software, which resulted in the explosion of Siberian pipelines with power equivalent to one-fifth of an atomic bomb. Hackers can also take control of wireless medical implants, holding people’s lives at their fingertips. Although there have not been any recorded deaths from hacking medical devices, perhaps a malicious hacker was simply undetected, successfully wiping all traces of their crimes clean. What seems like a malfunction of a device actually could have been calculated murder.
Of course, white hat, or ethical, hacking will actively combat ill-willed hacking, but people should start reflecting upon the detrimental nature of their increasing dependency on technology. The extreme demand for the newest gadgets have caused manufacturers to struggle to keep up, leading to a lack of testing and production of incomplete products, as exemplified by the recent explosive Samsung phones. Ultimately, hackers can potentially have the entire world at their mercy, committing crimes undetected
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