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Why scientists’ predictions don’t come true in 2015? Myths about advanced mobile technology that made the world worse

By Anatoly Klepov

All predictions about the future of the human civilization may be subdivided into two categories - extrasensory, based on the little-studied ability to predict the future and telepathy, on the one hand, and scientific predictions, based on the analysis of the achievements of the civilization, on the other. As a rule, scientific predictions are much more likely to be loyal and can hardly be called as such. The advance of industrial science is thoroughly forecast due to its close connection to production, commerce and allotted funding. Breakthroughs like the invention of radio, television and even airplanes are no longer possible in modern science. Each new invention requires considerable financing and most importantly control over information previous developments are based on.

Funding or market demand has never hindered the flight of fantasy of science fiction writers and extrasensory experts. Many examples show that very often their predictions came true years or even centuries later. What about scientific forecasting?

Online publications dedicated to the development of mobile phone and communication technologies show that most of the forecasts haven’t come true! Neither good reputation of resources publishing those predictions nor the names of prominent IT experts could save the flight of scientific imagination from apparent failure. Why were their forecasts inaccurate? Does technology advance so quickly that even the boldest forecasts are left behind? Or maybe there’s some other reason? Let's take a closer look at the statements above and analyze what really happened.

Forecast 1. The era of software encryption, offered in 95% of computers and phones, is over. Hackers have many ways of breaking passwords - 56 billion passwords per second. A new period that will change the concept of mobile technologies will start in 2015. According to Micah Winkelspecht Mike, CEO of Gem, 2015 will be a year of hardware security. (http://www.kitco.com/news/2015-01-28/Gem-Announces-Major-Bitcoin-Security-Platform-Expansion-With-Integration-of-Hardware-Security-Module.html) Hardware encryption for mobile phones will be the only way to provide security against hackers’ growing power. “Security hardware has become a focus of some of the largest computer companies in the world.” (http://www.livescience.com/8635-hardware-security-protects-software.html). In 2015 business will be conducted over mobile platforms and a mobile device will be a link between customers and businesses (banking, entertainment industry, retail sales, etc.) The trend will develop and mobile devices will be used for bank transactions, e-commerce, customer base monitoring, advertising and communication between buyers and sellers.

Real situation. Indeed, processes in the field of information security indicate that the software protection era is coming to an end. Today any software protection that isn’t supported by strong hardware encryption can be easily hacked. Although e-commerce mobile technologies have long been used and implemented by banks, competition is still very strong in this market. And it’s very sad that bankers are seeking to gain a foothold on a huge financial platform at any cost – in the long run at the expense of users’ information security.

It is common knowledge that the problem of hacking online accounts is solved at the expense of insurances and clients: increased banking charges compensate stolen amounts. Hackers skim off the top and their criminal business becomes even more brazen, ambitious and dangerous.

How long will a financial scheme endure? How long will customers pay for information security lapses? Probably, till the stolen amounts are so huge that they rise beyond traditional bank losses if loans become irrecoverable.

What may happen if hackers succeed to attack not one but many banks around the world, steal hundreds of billions of dollars from each of them and there would be no financial resources to recover the catastrophic shortage - the way it happened in 1992 when “fake letters of advice” were used to steal money from the Central Bank of Russia?

Figures quoted by Gartner, the leading information technology research company, give the reason to suggest that it may happen in the very near future. Gartner predicts that next year more than 80 percent of Internet connections will be conducted over mobile phones.

It’s distressing that though wireless communications advance the number of hacker attacks on mobile phones equipped with vulnerable e-commerce software grows rapidly. After all, 99 percent of mobile phone manufacturers neglect the factor of hacker attacks seeking to reduce information security costs.

The rate of hacking attacks is much higher than the advance of security hardware designed to protect mobile phones. Why don’t users want to pay for hardware security of their mobile phones?

According to Symantec estimates that the annual profit from cyber crime is 400 billion dollars, albeit only a dozen hackers have been revealed and punished. Besides the amount they’ve stolen doesn’t exceed tens of millions of dollars. Who stole the rest of hundreds of billions of dollars? Why does the press keep silent about it? Who is shutting it up so that users are not aware of the true scale of fraud losses resulting from credit card transactions? Why are huge losses ignored whereas sometimes they are equal to the budgets of some countries? Do multinational corporations deliberately conceal real losses in order to preserve their surplus profits?

Summarizing these facts we can assume that next year a great number of mobile payments will be stolen. This tremendous outburst will undermine all national economies. Banks will collapse like the Central Bank of Russia nearly collapsed in 1992 when criminals stole money using false letters of advice.

Look back at the US Dollar fate in Russia. It cost 67 US cents and now it costs 67 Rubles. The purchasing power of a Russian Ruble has decreased 6500 times over the past years. A three-room cooperative apartment in Moscow cost 10 000 Rubles but now it costs more than a million dollars in some regions of Moscow. But what happens if currency exchange rates around the world decrease 6500 times after a massive hacker attack?

Forecast 2. Information security will be the priority for companies in 2015. Only hardware encryption will ensure security for corporate data and personal data of employees who are using mobile devices. Introduction of HealthKit and HomeKit platforms, as well as Apple Pay mobile payment systems implies that employees will use corporate devices even for personal purposes.

Real situation. New mobile health, home security and payment platforms are distributed according to plans. However, not a single case has been known yet when mass introduction of software is accompanied by its mass protection with hardware encryption.

Forecast 3. In 2014 companies will start launching mobile devices and technologies. According to forecasts, 80% of Internet connections will be conducted over mobile devices by 2015. (http://www.informationweek.com/mobile/mobile-networks-penetrate-90--of-worlds-population/d/d-id/1093445?). However, many companies don’t respond to market changes quickly enough; they’ll have to quit the outdated way of conducting business and restructure to master mobile technologies.

Real situation. The forecast has come true in a way. Indeed, the number of Internet connections over mobile devices is rapidly approaching predicted 90 percent. However, they’re the same outdated mobile devices that don’t provide protection against hackers. In this situation it’s not reasonable but even deadly dangerous “to quit the outdated way of conducting business and restructure it”. It turns out that the interested parties urging businessmen to abandon their immobile technologies in favor of new mobile ones give a wrong forecast and push vulnerable businessmen and their enterprises on hackers’ sniper “bullets”.

Forecast 4. New mobile devices are expected to change our attitude towards data consumption. Apple Watch will presumably become the sales leader in 2015. Customers will be able to plan their schedules or, for example, display favorite contacts. “Data snacking” will be introduced to serve up small bursts of data. Wearable devices will be the first to represent the “Internet of things” theory.

Real situation. Whether we like it or not, the “Internet of things” becomes a part of our lives due to the efforts of the largest multinational IT-companies offering convenient life support services and even artificial intelligence. However, the developers of innovative technologies keep modestly silent that there’s no way to secure data processed on a personal device against a third party intrusion.

The Technology Manager at Lookout, an IT-security company, believes that the more convenient features are offered in gadgets and mobile devices the more vulnerable they are. He compares a function with a door in a house: the more doors there are in the house the greater the risk of housebreaking.

Hackers can easily intrude an information network taking over control over the main elements of the “Internet of things”, whether an aircraft steering wheel, a car or audio/video health or baby monitor.

Anti-hacking protection in healthcare is a special information security category because people entrust their lives to intelligent devices and technologies. Hackers have learnt to control not only vehicles and airplanes but also smart medical devices and health monitoring systems. They can interfere in the treatment process, introduce corrupted data into software and turn medical equipment into a sophisticated killing machine.

Cigarette manufacturers all over the world are obliged to report truth in bold letters on each cigarette package “WARNING: Cigarette smoking is hazardous for your life!” Electronic devices designed for data collection, transfer, analysis and storage are also important for us. Why aren’t such warnings printed on them?

Forecast 5. In 2015 Windows 10 will make a revolution in mobile business and private lives and release a system of so-called “isolated rooms” to run users’ software. Each room will have its own features, doors, windows or – there may be none. The main point is the application doesn’t have direct access to system resources and operates in its “virtual” environment.

Microsoft will gradually seize creating OS images and enhance applications. “Heavy” and expensive Win32 applications will be gradually shut down. Applications and images for Windows 10 will first of all undergo security testing and very soon the present-day security market dealing in antivirus software, VPN and so forth will look very archaic.

Real situation. Just a few days ago Windows 10 started a “mobile revolution”. Hundreds of millions of users have already installed the new operating system on their computers. But information security experts overshadowed users’ joy and published a special warning and lawyers were startled having read Windows 10 License Agreement. Verbalists analyzed it closely and found out that Windows 10 “collects and stores the history of visited web-pages, web site passwords, names of the access points the user has connected to and passwords to them. These data are tied to a Microsoft account the password to which may be hacked or stolen. In this case the criminal will know practically everything about his victim.”

Besides according to Windows 10 License Agreement a virtual assistant Cortana has the right to collect any type of users’ information: the location of the device, fragments of E-mail and SMS correspondence, phone call information, data from the user's digital event calendar and Contact List. Information on how you use your phone will be collected to maintain Cortana working status: the time the alarm is set at, music playlist, downloaded software, the history of visited web pages, etc. The samples of the user's voice will also be stored on Microsoft servers.

Encryption keys will be stored at Microsoft. If you’ve encrypted your data on the device using standard BitLocker software, not only you but also Microsoft will have the key to access data. Windows 10 License Agreement indicates that the password will be copied to the server OneDrive controlled by Microsoft. The company will be obliged to disclose this information on the demand of the authorized agencies thus making Windows 10 encryption worthless. The new modern operating system can collect virtually all available information about the user’s personal life, business or job with the explicit consent of the user but doesn’t ensure data security.

Forecast 6. Mobile devices will gather information for business and soon it will be impossible to imagine it without collected data. The number of mobile devices will continue to grow and they’ll be the major source of “big data” solutions.

Real situation. On the one hand, the forecast presents extended capabilities of mobile devices to collect information about their owners as a technological breakthrough. On the other hand, collected users’ information is vulnerable – it is exposed to hackers and third parties. It seems that hushing up and ignoring such software holes gradually deprives a person of personality turning him into one of the billions identical cogs in the huge mechanism that doesn’t grant the right to privacy.

Forecast 7. Achievements in mobile technology will be a decisive factor in CIO recruitment. It will be easier for mobile technology experts to find a job if he can gather a team of developers. These specialists will give up traditional security schemes and develop strategies to secure mobile devices. It will be difficult to move up the career ladder for those who cannot promptly adapt to market conditions.

Real situation. The role of information technology increases thus raising people who design custom spyware or use them to control mobile data of their colleagues on a completely new level. In practice, even a company owner or its director has fewer opportunities to control employees in a situation like this.

How will it be possible to control the supervisors who accumulate the collected information? In fact, we are witnessing the renovation of public and commercial relationships that got their shape over centuries. Database owners will gradually take over the first roles in the society instead of the owners of the largest financial and industrial resources and leaders of major political movements. Such precedents can lead to the most unexpected results, including the rise of a global dictator, a kind of “information Hitler” who will gain control over all information on the planet.

Forecast 8. Mobile devices will interact with “smart home”, “smart city” and other systems. Consumers can unlock a new world of possibilities by controlling, monitoring and automating their smart homes using their mobile devices (smart phones, tablet PCs and wearables) and a smart TV from anywhere in the world. (http://developer.samsung.com/smart-home).

Real situation. Leaving the house we usually lock the door, use electronic alarms, hire guards and even keep specially trained animals to protect our home. It’s not clear who will fulfill all these functions in our virtual home with its doors, vents and windows wide open for intruders 24 hours a day.

On the one hand, the rapid development of science, technology and communications reminds the situation at the dawn of our civilization, when Moses was granted the Ten Commandments and could lead the slaves from bondage to new life. On the other hand, contemporary “Moseses” who’ve received the sacred tablets of the modern information era are walking a tightrope blind without a harness in the hackers’ valley, stubbornly leading the rest of the world after them.

Forecast 9. Secure communication lines for civil servants and their families inaccessible to hackers will be created in the near future. In the age of information technology and in new conditions the creation of such networks will be considered to be a prerequisite for national stability.

Real situation. This important project remains unrealized. As a result government agencies, even in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world - the United States – are exposed to severe information attacks conducted by fanatics of the Middle East terrorist organizations. ISIS hackers have recently stolen personal data of the US government officials from a government web site. The Associated Press reported that stolen data “contained the address of residence, date of birth, place of previous employment, salary history, social security numbers and pension data.”

Unfortunately, the predicament that a powerful security system for civil servants’ personal data will be created in 2015 also remains a myth, as well as all other important plans to secure information around the world. Hackers and criminals won’t be slow to take advantage of the situation.

 

© 2011 All rights reserved. Klepov A.V.
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