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Protecting the Internet of Things

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Can the government protect Internet of Things devices?

Forbes describes the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example, a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.”

This concept plays a big part in the future of technology and the devices we use. The biggest concern surrounding the topic of the IoT is security. How do we protect these internet-connected devices from threats and hackers? As the components of important machines are left vulnerable, this issue becomes more and more prevalent.

Now, the government is getting involved. A new Senate bill seeks to improve the security of government devices. Many IoT devices, like cameras, computers, and more are vulnerable to attack. Recent attacks have even allowed hackers access to popular services. As more IoT devices are attacked, the government wants to make sure that they meet basic standards of security.

Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act

Several senators, including Mark Warner, Cory Gardner, Ron Wyden, and Steve Daines, introduced the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act. The new IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act wants to add better security to devices purchased by the U.S. government. It mandates that devices support patches and password changes, which would help decrease their vulnerability. The senators also want government devices free of known exploits. These standards allow government officials to keep their devices updated and prevent future attacks.

“While I’m tremendously excited about the innovation and productivity that Internet-of-Things devices will unleash, I have long been concerned that too many Internet-connected devices are being sold without appropriate safeguards and protections in place,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation would establish thorough, yet flexible, guidelines for Federal Government procurements of connected devices. My hope is that this legislation will remedy the obvious market failure that has occurred and encourage device manufacturers to compete on the security of their products.”

What This Bill Could Mean for IoT Devices

Updating the security of these devices could mean a lot for the safety of government information and services. Sen. Gardner notes that “The Internet of Things (IoT) landscape continues to expand, with most experts expecting tens of billions of devices operating on our networks within the next several years.” The more IoT devices that we have available, the more opportunities hackers have to access or interfere with valuable information and services.

Hopefully, the bill will affect all IoT devices, not just the ones used by the government. Manufacturers could raise the standards of their security overall to gain government contracts. If it is passed, only researchers, who are meant to test security exploits, will be exempt from purchasing devices that don’t meet the new standards of security. If you wish to learn more about the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act, you can find out here.

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MasterCard Creates New Payment Cards With Fingerprint Sensors

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Are you ready for new payment cards?

Credit and debit cards are our most valued possessions. These tools give us access to our credit and bank accounts from anywhere, so it’s understandable that people want to keep them secure. When payment cards are stolen, thieves can gain the opportunity to take your money or increase your debt.

Card companies know the risk of fraud and people taking your private and personal information. That’s why they are always finding new ways to update the technology built in these cards. MasterCard unveiled its latest developments with the new fingerprint sensor-enabled payment cards.

Developments to Payment Cards

Payment cards have evolved over time. In the 1970’s, financial institutions introduced the magnetic stripe, allowing us to use ATM’s and process sales transactions without cash. The magnetic stripe is still used today, making purchasing items easier. More recently, card companies introduced the chip, which is the standard among Europay, MasterCard, and Visa.

While thieves and scammers can copy the magnetic strip, the chip cannot. Since the chip’s implementation, it’s become harder for scammers to steal and use payment card information.

Many people are already familiar with how to use a payment card. You swipe your card, and as an extra layer of security, you have to type your unique pin number. This pin prevents anyone other than yourself from using your card. Every method adds another layer of security so that only you can access your money.

New Fingerprint Sensors

Biometrics are the newest method of security for technology items. The most well-known adopters are phone makers. The newest smartphones use select fingerprints to provide quicker and more secure access to our phones. Now MasterCard is ready to introduce the technology into their payment card.

The new cards will still keep the magnetic strip and chip. However, they will add digital fingerprint scanner. Before issuing your card, your bank or credit card institution will store an encrypted digital template of your fingerprint on the chip. You have the ability to add two separate prints to the card; however, they can only be yours.

Engadget had a chance to demo the chip and notice positive results recently. You simply insert your card, put your finger on the scanner, and your purchase is complete. Editors at Engadget reports that process was fast and efficient. The card is also no different in size and shape from the general credit or debit card that you carry in your wallet.

The cards are currently available in South Africa for now. MasterCard plans to have the card debut across the world by the end of this year. As a result, we will most likely see banks and other financial institutions implement and distribute these cards to their customers soon after. In the end, the updated technology makes customer financial information safer. The new cards will also save these institutions money they would otherwise lose trying to solve fraud incidents. Hopefully, we will see the cards soon.

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Artificial Intelligence — How Concerned Should You Be?

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Should we be concerned about how far artificial intelligence has come? What it is capable of?

The digital world is shifting toward artificial intelligence (AI). We want voice searches and digital assistants to be more human-like—and that means artificial intelligence. While the idea that someday there will be a robot apocalypse is the work of science fiction; however, there are legitimate concerns that make AI a difficult thing to accomplish. Here are a few of those worries.

Artificial Intelligence Have a Single-Minded Focus

One of the primary things that always come up in fictional AI storylines is the concept that robots take over the world to save it from humans, or to save humans from themselves. It demonstrates an interesting point. Even a machine that is programmed with a degree of AI will still struggle to weigh decisions like a human does. For example, a cleaning robot will not have the same sentimental attitude toward your trophy collection, and may knock it to the ground to get to all of the dust on the mantle. How do you program a robot to care about your things in the same way as you do?

They Are Rewarded for Shortcuts

True artificial intelligence would require a machine to have a sense of satisfaction in accomplishing its assign tasks. The problem is: how do you stop the robot from taking on the human attitude of looking for shortcuts to get to the reward? Will a cleaning robot (bot) feel just as good if it tosses your clothes under the bed and your kid’s toys in the closet as doing the actually cleaning? What if the robot goes truly rogue and starts messing things up just to clean and complete an assignment?

Exploration Dangers

Like a human, a machine programmed with AI will want to explore possibilities and expand horizons. What if your cooking robot decides to experiment with an ingredient that in theory will taste good, but in reality, is deadly? The droid may be programmed to never intentionally poison someone, but what if it was an accident in an effort to create a new and exciting dish?

These are just a few of the concerns that developers have as they work on AI for future automated helpers. For now, about the worst things a digital assistant can do is to give you bad directions or a recommend a crummy restaurant.

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