Remote Control

Insecurity of wireless has been much in the news.  Reading reports from the recent Black Hat conference and Defcon, there was a demonstration of how to compromise wireless devices by crashing the drivers, and also news about how easy it is to compromise RFID devices, for example cloning new, hi-tech passports that use the technology.  Flipping open the pages of the August PC World USA, (yes, paper magazines do still exist!), I see a report about the “10 Biggest Security Risks You Don’t Know About”, and this includes a report about how Bluetooth devices can be infected by malicious Bluetooth apps that are passing by, perhaps a metre away. They also talk about viruses that travel via SMS messages.

It’s a gloomy picture.  Whatever platform we choose to carry around with us for our calendar/agenda or communications needs, it seems that they can be compromised in some way, even without anyone touching the thing.  As we have noted in this blog before on a few occasions, a key way to compromise VoIP is to compromise the platform that you use to host it.  But I guess it all comes back to the same point: we love Bluetooth because it’s so damn convenient, but convenience is the enemy of security.  When we get lazy, other people out there get busy, trying to find ways to mess things up for us.

Which brings me very much to today’s situation with the current terror plot (that Tom Keating talks about here): I’m travelling back to the UK today, and thankfully the restrictions this end aren’t too bad tonight: I can’t carry a bottle of water onboard, but at least I can get home with all my precious tech gadgets intact.  Back in London, people are checking in their laptops, PDAs, Skype headsets and smartphones as hold baggage, and who knows how that stuff will look when the bags are unzipped tomorrow after the airline baggage handlers have had a go at them.  Life is about to get much harder for travellers, as we confront the reality that eternal vigilance is the price of safety.