In the world of security, we use the catchphrase ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ whenever some new and exciting technology comes out. Security experts are an inherently contrary lot (because we’re paid to be), and use this statement to highlight that technology is power, and power can be used for bad as well as good. Everything that is good and convenient about a new technology for you, is also good and convenient for someone that means you harm.
What we see this week at Mobile World Congress is another glimpse into a more connected, more convenient future. There’s a lot of exciting things—the ability to more easily order food from your car on the way home, new ways to access your email, contacts and calendar without a computer (smart watches), and even the ability to control your home’s environment from one remote control without getting up (another major step forward for us couch potatoes!).
But each and every one of these can be just as exciting for criminals and other malcontents. What could possibly go wrong? Your carjacker could potentially chow down on food you paid for after he stole your car, adding insult to injury. Your mugger could get the name, address and location of your family or loved ones after taking your watch, further threatening them. Or, your disgruntled neighbor could turn off the lights and turn up the heat in your house by hacking your smart remote, leaving you to sweat and stew in the dark as your electricity bill climbs.
Are you likely to face these problems? Maybe not. But bad things do happen to good people unexpectedly. After all, no one expects to be the victim of a violent crime, but it does happen (it did to me). Greater convenience ups the stakes when the worst happens. And greater connectivity exposes you to more bad people – since the Internet is one big global village connecting to it also links you to the bad parts of town.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be excited about these innovations or skip over them. But we need to always ask the basic questions, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ and decide what to do about it. Most of us still go to the city even though there are risks, we just account for them and do things like lock our cars and keep our wallets secured. The same thing applies here; understand the risks and account for them.
Because that’s the way you can truly enjoy the benefits of this always exciting, always changing world of technology without later experiencing some kind of “if only I had” regret.