“We the public are at one of the last points that we will have to make a difference in how normalised the culture of mass surveillance becomes.”
Following the cinema release of Oliver Stone’s latest biopic, Snowden, these words spoken by Edward Snowden himself remind us of what drove him to take controversial action in the name of privacy that made him the polarizing figure he is today.
Most people in the Western world regard privacy as one of most fundamental rights in a democratic society. They also take it for granted that these democratic principles apply equally to the Internet. This is why the exposure of the NSA’s PRISM program in 2013 highlighting the extent of Internet surveillance by the US authorities was such a scandal.
High profile data breaches at companies like Mossack Fonseca, Target, Home Depot and Wendy’s along with Government controversies like Edward Snowden and the FBI’s legal suit against Apple after the San Bernadino shootings have severely dented public confidence in the ability of business and government to keep personal data safe and secure.
Architects and city planners first began promoting the concept of Smart Buildings, or Building Automation Systems (BAS), around ten years ago. Smart buildings were meant to deliver untold benefits from energy efficiencies and greener lifestyles to cost savings and improved living standards for all. Early examples of IP-connected appliances, however, were not built to cope with the demands of an evolving threat landscape.
The average company network has many more devices connecting to it than even just a few years ago. In addition to traditional workstations there are now smartphones and tablets alongside a wide variety of Internet-connected equipment from printers, access control systems and security cameras to digital signage, smart TVs, thermostats and even everyday appliances like coffee machines. In situations where digital signage shares the network with such a diverse range of devices and applications use of software-based site-to-site VPNs are often the best way to ensure security, signal continuity and optimize flexibility.
Advances in connected car technology are set to radically alter the future of driving for everyone. Among the promised benefits is the ability for cars to ‘learn’ from each other, provide early warning of mechanical problems and remotely interact with other devices. They may also allow insurers to accurately build up a ‘risk profile’ for every driver, leading to reduced premiums for some. Connected cars may even allow car manufacturers to target customers individually with software updates to suit their individual tastes.