Digital technology is pervasive and makes so many things possible: from the ubiquitous e-mail to movies downloaded to one’s computer. Computers are part of our cars, they are our cell phones. They are becoming an essential part of the world we live in—and even part of our own bodies. Albeit, the unintended costs associated with too many of the information technology products are, at this juncture, way too high. Identity theft is only one example. It painfully costs the victim money, credit rating, time, and a great deal of hassle. We all lose when the economy as a whole is subject to damage reaching hundreds of billions. The unbearable and growing load of spam, the daily reports of security breaches—affecting millions of people—form the image of an increasingly vulnerable society. Hacking the computer embedded in our cars, or the cell phone through which many conduct some of their business is already on record. Have you ever thought about the security, or lack thereof, of the new prostheses attached to or implanted in our living bodies and which are monitored by embedded computers?
Blame the user—for not knowing how to work with the product, or for negligence. Instead of designing secure systems and writing secure code, the industry accepts recycled programs, hacks, or tweaks that perpetuate shortcomings excused as inherent in any beginning. And when some malicious—or creative—person discovers the weak spot, the industry issues yet another patch—Windows™ is notorious for them—along with another warning to the users. Quite often, the user ends up being a guinea pig for products not fully tested prior to their release. Debugging is an expensive operation. Some companies save money by literally having their clients, purchasers expecting bug-free products, unwittingly do the debugging for them. Can you imagine the same strategy applied to new cars, heating systems, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc., etc.? How many times were you required to sign a release form that frees the company of all responsibility if, for example, your microwave explodes? (The jury is still out on whether cell phones damage our health.)
It is time to defend ourselves. How? Let us put our minds together and find the most effective ways.
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