Following the recent shooting of police offers in Dallas from an individual reported as Micah Johnson, there has been another aspect (from that of rifle ownership) that has sparked controversy but caught my attention in particular: according to several sources, this was the first time in history the US law enforcement have used a robot to deliver lethal force, to kill. Several news reporters have posed questions about the legal, ethical and technical implications of doing that.
What caught my eye was the technical aspect in particular: a remotely controlled robot delivers lethal force. Could that robot be interfered with by non-authorized personnel (civilians)? What if someone hijacks the frequencies and sends different commands? How secure and protected from outside interference are such devices? If there is a mistake being made by the operators can they easily blame it on technical malfunctions and used as scapegoats?
More importantly: can this give new ideas to those who want to achieve mass killings? There has been an incredible rise in the number of drones being used by "home users", so far mainly for "entertainment" purposes. There is nothing to stop an individual from pulling an "eye for an eye" and using the same method to drive a robot with explosives into a police station without the need to sacrifice him/herself.
Coming back to the security aspect: if this method is being used more often, could someone prepare a home-made EMP to disable such devices? Could they actually remotely trigger the device whilst it's in police custody and therefore have even more casualties? Nonetheless, it will be interesting to observe the legal and ethical challenges of employing such methods and whether the security aspect will be overlooked (most likely) in favor of these.
This being my first blog post here, my mind thinks about the first time I came across computer security and later on web/apps security. Back in the day, most of the parents were not really interested or indeed aware of what kids were doing on computers. At least in the country I grew up. It is to some extent part of the conflict between generations but I won't go into that just now. The fact is that many parents did not have the time, desire and/or knowledge to pay careful attention. Therefore, many children were self-educated are more importantly self-regulated in that environment.
Partly attracted and seduced by feelings of power and control, the rush of adrenaline and the sweet taste of doing something forbidden and partly due to popular culture at the time, media (incorrect) portrayal of hackers and cyber-crime as well as peer admiration and recognition has driven many kids at the beginning to get involved in these fields for all the wrong reasons. In other cases, victims wanted on one side revenge and on the other to learn protect themselves so that's half-bad.
This has created a number of challenges throughout the years with some still affecting today's generation in known and unknown ways. The problem today has evolved and morphed into something unbelievably more complex. Today, when the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly declares access to the Internet a basic human right and the whole world is reliant upon technology and internet there seems to be a major "elephant in the room": how do we educate our children and the generation on internet/technology safety and security? Are we emphasizing this early on their education? To what extent? Many are growing with tablets in their hands since they turn 3.
When emerging economies and whole countries are moving slowly from dial-up connections to mobile browsing and broadband: are there any business opportunities in terms of security for them? We live after all in a global world. How do we educate and embed responsibility in the "hackers" (term used with generosity) of tomorrow? Could there be a business and political opportunity to push forward such education as state-approved/endorsed?
Time will tell but getting the "beginning" right at the appropriate time is crucial for our future, a future which seems increasingly refracted through the technology prism.