Watching Our Digital Backs

Mark Lanterman"I frequently tell people that when you gain convenience as a result of new technology or a new device, your ability to maintain your privacy diminishes."

So says cyber-security specialist Mark Lanterman. This seems to be the trade-off: we as consumers enjoy accelerating technology that increases the convenience in our lives and provides so many exciting new services we didn't even know we needed! And then come the bizarre news stories, like the Jeep Cherokee that was disabled, under controlled conditions, by hacking a vulnerability in its "smart" air conditioning... while barreling down the highway at 70 mph. Or when security team Pen Test Partners hacked a "smart" refrigerator to obtain its owner's Gmail login credentials. 

"I think that as our digital lives become more and more complicated and technology becomes more deeply engrained in our lives, users are taking a step back to figure out what they're giving up," says Lanterman, who is Chief Technology Officer of Minnesota-based Computer Forensic Services and an instructor for the University of Minnesota's Technological Leadership Group. This is why interest in online security and protection against identity theft, among many causes, seem to be on the upswing.

Yet not all the break-ins are the result of faulty technology: "Instead of hacking into a system and taking advantage of digital vulnerabilities, cybercriminals are exploiting human weaknesses." What looks like a legitimate professional e-mail "often contains malicious links or tricks users into providing personal information," Lanterman warns.

And what happens on a personal level also happens on a larger scale, as made evident by breaches that have impacted retailers, banks, and government agencies. Join us for Cyber Crime: From Phishing to the Dark Net (Headliners,March 2) when Lanterman will survey security threats that specifically target our nation's critical infrastructure via the Dark Web, the Internet of Things, phishing, and Wi-Fi attacks.