Technology is advancing at an ever quickening pace, and new breakthroughs are often feared as much as they are celebrated. The headlines are full of stories about terrifying new tech being used for nefarious purposes - and that trend doesn't look like it's reversing anytime soon. While scientific progress should always be applauded, it is important to keep an eye on emerging technologies and monitor how they are used. Technology can just as easily be pointed in a regressive direction as a progressive one, and the scariest technology can easily abused in an incredibly dangerous fashion.
There are a lot of scary current technologies that are affecting our day to day lives, and some are becoming potential national security threats. We are still struggling to navigate this new digital future, and learning how to live with certain technologies previously unimaginable. Social media, advanced robotics, and virtual reality are simultaneously being used for good and evil, and the stakes have never been higher. If humanity is to survive our technological revolution, we better keep an eye on how these terrifying technologies are used.
Drones have been used in countless roles since their surge in popularity, capable of everything from package delivery to advanced military combat. As drone technology gets cheaper and more available to the general population, concerns are rising about the potential for an individual to use autonomous drones to carry out a terror attack on a civilian population. One viral video produced by an organization hoping to ban the use of killer drones shows just how easily a large scale attack can be perpetrated by drones. All it would take is a small amount of explosive to turn a harmless recreational drone into a flying slaughterbot.
There have already been some instances of drones being used as weapons. Drones are already used on the battlefield in the Middle East and American hackers have found a way to mount guns on drones. In other words, we may live in a time when a civilian can buy a drone and design to target and kill a specific individual or group of individuals.
Some people dream of a high tech home that is perfectly catered to them in every way, and finally that is becoming a possibility. There is a danger to this dream however, as smart homes are not always as benevolent as you would hope. All of those digital appliances that are hooked up to the internet have the capability to collect very personal data concerning your daily habits, and your ISP has the right to sell whatever data it slurps up from those devices. Everyone has pretty much accepted things like browsing history and other records from personal computers and phones are often sold to third parties, but smart homes are even more invasive. If you have a security camera installed in your home, videos are fair game for sharing with third parties. Some smart TVs are equipped with a microphone that's always on, meaning it has the potential to record random conversations that happen even when you're not watching television.
It's invasive enough to think random advertisers are peaking into your personal life to such a degree. However, it's even scarier to wonder what happens if parts of a smart home are hacked. In the wrong hands, someone could figure out when you're not home, listen in on private conversations, or even catch you naked on your security camera.
As any driver's ed teacher will tell you in a heartbeat, cars can be deadly weapons. Car collisions are already the fourth most common cause of death for Americans today, but those numbers could rise as extremist hackers learn how to take control of computerized vehicles. Given more and more cars come equipped with things like Internet and Bluetooth, this could potentially make cars as susceptible to hackers as the average computer. A hacker could carry out an assassination from a distance by taking control of a car and deliberately crashing it. Even worse? The murder would be essentially undetectable.
While there have not been any confirmed instances where a terrorist used a hacked car in an attack, the threat is looming over the entire automobile industry. Researchers have already proven that you can hack a car and remotely control steering and acceleration, so it may be only a matter of time before criminals take advantage of this.
Cyber attacks are increasingly appearing in the headlines, and their sophistication and potential for damage is growing every day. One common tool used in cyber attacks is something called ransomware, a type of computer virus that holds data hostage until the victim pays a ransom to get it back. Posing as an e-mail from a familiar company - like FedEx, a cable or internet provider, or the gas company - hackers get victims to open a link. The link then downloads a computer's hard drive and locks the user out, presenting a message saying they can only get back into the computer after paying ransom.
A ransomware virus known as WannaCry was behind a 2017 cyber attack that targeted the UK's National Health Service. The attack locked down computers in hospitals throughout the country, causing a national emergency that would last for several days before the virus could be deactivated. Without serious upgrades in computer security, attacks like these could happen with devastating regularity. So, next time you get a seemingly innocent email from a familiar company, use extreme precaution before opening any attachments.