Connectivity, the schizophrenia of the modern world

Cars, houses, telephones, computers, watches, household appliances – the various trappings of the modern world have already been with us for a while, but now they are all being radically transformed by the Internet of Things.

Today, connected objects are a tremendous economic growth driver, and in the very near future they are set to revolutionise everyday life for everyone, increasing our comfort, safety and general well-being.

We are living the early days of this revolution, with the development of home automation, monitoring our energy consumption and keeping our homes safe and secure, and the arrival of smartphones and now smartwatches, that don’t just tell us what time it is but act as a PA and personal trainer to boot. We even have microchipped cats and dogs! The development of connected cars, meanwhile, will soon mean that autonomous vehicles are no longer found only in science-fiction but have become part of the world around us.

Every economic sector is being swept away on this tidal wave, even in the most traditional areas, such as industry, which is undergoing its 4th revolution (industry 4.0), construction (Building Information Modelling) and insurance (thanks to Insurtech).

Nevertheless, numerous voices are being raised in protest against this trend towards hyperconnectivity, associating it with Big Brother rather than Big Data and demanding the right to privacy and to remain ‘disconnected’.

So it’s hardly surprising if our attitude tends to be somewhat schizophrenic

On the one hand we’re told that connected objects are excellent in terms of health prevention (watches that monitor our blood pressure, heart-rate and exercise routine, tablets with an embedded microchip to check we’re taking our medication, etc.). And, on the other, we are warned that hyperconnectivity may represent a risk for our organism and state of mind.

Other connected objects will help us to avoid road traffic accidents, house fires and burglaries. But experts in Cyber Security are concerned about the risk of data hacking (see the editorial by Alexis Nardone, our CYBER loss adjuster, in our last issue).

So, who is right? Without risk there can be no innovation. I believe we should not fear those risks but seek rather to control them. That is the way progress has always been made in today’s modern society.

 

Olivier RICHARD, Technical Director, GM Consultant Group

EDITORIAL – Multiple virtues of disconnection

Summer holidays remind us how difficult, but also crucial, it is for many of us to disconnect from professional emails, and also from news flows and other social networks… The labor law, a major subject after the return from summer holidays, will define measures to ensure compliance with rest and holiday time, as well as the balance between professional and family personal life.

As a fan of connected gadgets, when the Head of the IT Department asks me about their security level, I often answer that he sees evil everywhere!

But what if he was right in the end? What if we had to forbid, at least for a short time, taking advantage of technological progress because it is not just innovative of course, addictive without any doubt, but also a source of vulnerability to hacking?  Far from being convinced, doubt conquered me and I spent two hours on the Internet looking for the potential security weaknesses of my connected pen…

The new category of so-called “connected” or IoT objects symbolise the future but also a lack of security. The latest current example: the theft of 10To data from an American casino, carried out through a breach in a connected aquarium! This is a serious issue and happened only few days after the FBI alert to American parents on risks related to the use of connected toys [1]. It is difficult for manufacturers to seriously study the issue if they want to go on selling them. Box suppliers, Orange and SFR have, for their part, repaired a major security weakness in their boxes. This information was certainly not noticed by the larger public…

Anyway, in a major IT crises context (even on a Neymar scale, the damage caused by 2017 attacks is huge), the issue will have to be tackled by all companies, especially because regulations are being strengthened.

I think it is utopian to imagine living without the progress represented by these connected objects, but everybody, computer programmers or not, needs to ask themselves about the risks related to the use of some of these objects. More generally, let’s stop trusting blindly and let’s take some precautions!

As far as I am concerned, and as I did not find any weakness published about my device, I have decided to continue using my connected pen, but to avoid writing my passwords with it or to anonymise information when I take notes. It works very well and I am very happy!

Alexis NARDONE – Partner Loss Adjuster – IT Manager