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Technology's dark side: Devious devices designed to harm you

Liviu Oprescu | Aug. 21, 2012
From ATM skimmers that steal your money to hackable insulin pumps, technology does have a dark side. And the various forms of sneaky tech can have frightening consequences.

However, location-based app developers often provide their APIs (application programming interfaces) to third parties, increasing the danger of misuse by interested outsiders.

This is precisely what happened in April, with an app called Girls Around Me. Using a combination of FourSquare's and Facebook's APIs, the Girls Around Me app displayed for anybody to see the location, pictures, and even names of nearby women.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this situation is that, under existing law, everything the developers of Girls Around Me did in making individual people's information available to its users was strictly legal. A level of intrusive data gathering that might raise concerns of stalking if pursued in person in the real world amounted to nothing more than the cleverly directed collection of readily available digital information.

Hackable Insulin Pumps

Jay Radcliffe, director of the Smart Device Threat Intelligence Center-and a type 1 diabetic who is always connected to an insulin pump-discovered that his Medtronic wireless insulin pump could be hacked and taken over by a rogue signal.

An insulin pump.From up to half a mile away, a hacker could assume control of the pump and deliver a deadly dose of insulin to an unsuspecting diabetic. The chances of such a thing happening are exceedingly small, but the potential consequences are dire. If nothing else, the scenario suggests a plot device in a James Bond movie featuring a ruthless criminal mastermind and an otherwise well-guarded diabetic target.

Though technology does far more good than bad in our lives, it has a dangerous side. Given that more and more of our world is connected through technology, criminals and hackers are virtually certain to find more ways to exploit the technology we depend on in our daily lives.

The best advice is to be aware of your devices' behavior. If you notice a change, it could be due to hacking. Often, this is how banks discover skimming and credit card fraud. You can also consult resources such as the FBI's Scams & Safety website to stay informed and safe from various threats, online and off.


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