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Entries in wireless security (2)

Tuesday
Nov012011

Intellistreets 'Controls, Monitors' the Sensory World ... But What About Your Privacy?

Intellistreets is a wireless digital infrastructure that is designed to provide information, entertainment and safety notifications to passerby, all while controlling vehicular and pedestrian traffic, providing on-demand street lighting, and monitoring its surrounding environment. But is your privacy being threatened in the meantime?

“In each lighting fixture or each lighting pole, there is processor very much like an iPhone. And it takes inputs and outputs and talks back and forth. And the poles actually talk to each other,” Intellistreets' inventor, Ron Harwood, told WXYZ in Farmington Hills, Mich., where the technology is made.

Each "smart streetlight" is remotely controlled and features LED video screens to broadcast information, cameras with a proximity sensor and pedestrian counter, speakers for alerts or music, an emergency push-to-talk system, and more.

Harwood was inspired to create "something that would make people more informed ... safer" in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

During major events, the pedestrian counter can alert police to large groups, and digital street signs can be changed to help handle traffic. On slow nights, the streetlight automatically dims, providing light only when it senses people approaching. Optional features like seismic sensors and water detection can further protect people from natural disasters or even save resources.

But Intellistreets cross the line in two major ways: The cameras can not only sense your presence; they can record video or take a photo of you. And its recording capabilities mean police could record your sidewalk conversation -- just in case.

Harwood, however, says there's nothing to worry about. “This is not a system with spook technology. It’s much more transparent. It can just talk to you and say, 'Don’t fall over Niagara Falls,'” he said.

The first of these light poles are installed in Farmington Hills. But you may see them in your city soon. Harwood has orders from Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh, and is in talks with the Department of  Homeland Security.

Wednesday
Jun152011

'Hackable' Medical Implants the Next Security, Privacy Concern?

A wireless insulin pump

It's like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Imagine a time when hackers hold people hostage through their medical implants. What if, for example, a diabetic's wireless insulin pump is hijacked--and his or her life is in the hands of the hijacker?

According to a fascinating new report, this scenario is not just possible. It could be happening today.

As an increasing percentage of people require wireless medical implants, such as insulin pumps and pacemakers, the devices have become impressively intelligent and sleek. Unfortunately, their security features are still lacking.

This week, security researchers demonstrated that such wireless devices can easily be hacked, using simple over-the-counter hardware, the user manual and public information. In the case of an insulin pump--something that hundreds of thousands of people rely upon--the researchers were able to hack in and control things like insulin dosage and glucose readings. For a diabetic, these changes can be deadly.

"Not all [security] solutions will carry over to medical devices," Anand Raghunathan, one of the lead researchers, told MSNBC.com. "That’s where the innovative thinking needs to be."

Sure, security for things like wireless phones and computers has been all but perfected. But the article pointed out that medical devices will need their own brand of security:

The researchers propose two possible "concept stage" suggestions for security fixes. One way would be to use rolling codes — a cryptography feature already used by garage doors and automotive keyless entry systems.

Another way to make the communication system secure, they say, is to use a technology called body-coupled communication that uses the human skin as a wave guide for wireless communication. This keeps the range of detection very close to the body, decreasing the likelihood of interception. That's just a start.