The Week In Review 17th June

stuart-wilkesHave you ever tried to make a change in life? You want to lose weight. You want to read more. You want to get more exercise. It can be tough to change habits of a lifetime. Just the thought of doing it in comparison to how you have trundled on in your own world of normality can put you off. Apparently the key to making changes is awareness, as in being aware of what you are currently doing then seeing how you can change that behaviour in order to develop new habits.

Take weight loss and fitness as an example. Now I hate to break it to you, but losing weight and getting fit is practically very, very easy. All you have to do is eat less ‘rubbish’ and do more exercise. You can distill thousands of diet books, food regimes, exercise plans down to these two simple steps. However how much ‘rubbish’ do you actually eat? Don’t you know? How about writing it down then, keep one of those ‘food diaries’ and list each and everything you eat, every day for a week. Once you see how many things you know are bad for you on that list you might start to do something about it. Make sense?

Well this theory was applied to cyber security this week and I must admit I quite like it. A statement appeared on the website that said “If one takes a step back and counts the transactions of data that one undertakes on a daily basis, and then multiplies it exponentially in the global context, the staggering size of it all, comes into perspective”. So how many snacks, muffins or sugary lattes do you ingest each week can be roughly translated to how many times do you interact with data each week? With a follow on question of ‘is that actually secure?’, or in dietary terms, ‘good for you’?

If you started to keep a track of how many times a day you check Facebook, LinkedIn, send a Tweet, respond to an email, pop some data up onto Dropbox, download a podcast, or share some photos through your choice of messaging app, very quickly you will see that your data addiction is far higher than any regular consumption of poppy seed muffins (my particular weakness). Each time you interact with data, ask if it’s secure, if not than are you happy with the risks? If you don’t know the risks, then perhaps a little time is needed to investigate it. If you don’t’ like what you find on a personal basis, just imagine what that is like in the business you work in! Do we all need to go on a data diet, or only use data that is good for us – i.e. secure?

You can’t waggle a stick at YouTube nowadays without some swooping magnificent aerial video footage that has been shot by a drone. Drones are everywhere and finding their way into more and more industries. They are being used for surveying purposes, recreational activities, sports reporting and are even now being used in competitive drone racing. But how secure is a drone? Well a team at Johns Hopkins University computer science department recently looked into the security of drones in order to determine how easily hackers could obtain control of them.

The bottom line is that they technology in these drones is highly vulnerable to hackers. This team found three ways that they could send rogue commands to a drone and interfere with it. In one test they managed to overload a drone by sending it over 1000 connection requests resulting in the drone crashing. I think this is another classic case of a great bit of technology being released onto the market, but functionality has been sold over security.

If you follow that thought forward it doesn’t take too much creative thinking to develop a scenario where the owner of a drone has their device hijacked mid-flight, the drone is then used to fly into restricted or controlled airspace, data obtained and transmitted back to the hijacker, who when they have received what they want, ‘un-hijacks’ it, leaving the legitimate owner to answer some difficult questions! Science fiction, or science fact? Maybe the drone owners need to start keeping a list of their flying activity, just in case!

For links to all these stories and more, or to contribute with some comments join us by searching for the National Cyber Skills Centre on our social channels of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, or just click the relevant links from our website.

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