Recently, I saw “I.T.” the movie starring Pierce Brosnan as a visionary CEO named Mike Regan. In the movie, Regan is planning to take his company public, and soon after the movie begins, Regan makes a presentation to a large group at his office, but the presentation goes sideways electronically. An IT expert is called in to help, but too often these days, the IT expert is a temporary employee. This IT temp saves the day and gets all the technology working again, so the presentation is able to move forward. Regan is grateful and becomes friendly with the IT temp. The problem, though, is that this techie is a psycho, and when he’s unable to date Regan’s daughter, he becomes determined to destroy Regan’s life.
Thanks to our connected world, the psycho techie does a pretty good job of causing harm to Regan and his way of life, and here’s how: Regan lives in a smart house, he drives an expensive car with the newest infotainment system, and he works in an office with top-of-the-line networking capabilities.
As we know, access negates all other forms of security – and access is what this IT guy got. Regan invited him to his house to check out the speed of the network. But because the house was a smart house and everything was connected, the IT guy was able to gain access to all functions within the house – and he installed a back door. The control pads in the walls were used as cameras for the security systems, music devices, and access to HVAC controls.
In addition, Regan invited the IT guy to sit in the driver’s seat of his extravagant car, and under the guise of giving Regan an “upgrade” to his infotainment system, the IT guy gained access to the car. As the movie progresses, the IT guy is shown seated in his “lair” with at least six large monitors watching the Regan family go about their daily lives. When the daughter goes into the shower, she takes her tablet into the bathroom to listen to music, and IT guy activates the camera. He then posts what he sees online for the world to see.
And all of this is happening without Regan’s knowledge. But once he realizes what’s happening, the IT guy starts the psychological torture. He locks down the house, turns devices on and off, makes music scream out of the speakers, and turns the water on and off. When Regan escapes his house to go to the office, the IT guy speaks to him through his car speaker system and taunts him. If that weren’t bad enough, the IT guy then takes control of the car and crashes it inside a tunnel.
Back at the office, the IT guy enters the company’s network through an electronic back door that he had set up when he worked there. He sends emails to all of the shareholders giving them some bad news about the company. The company has a difficult time disputing the announcement because it came from their IP address. Then, documents arrive at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showing that Regan’s company had engaged in fraud – it didn’t matter that the documents were fake. But the result was that the SEC stopped the IPO. And the kicker: everything looked authentic because all came from the company’s servers.
By the end of the movie, everything was fixed. But you can substitute this scary psycho IT guy for a malware-laden email that puts a back door into your network or a link that takes you to an infected website. You can also substitute a poorly-made wireless password, or any poorly-made password for that matter, that can be easily cracked. Just like a vampire, once the bad guy is invited into your network, he’s nearly impossible to get out.
New devices are coming online every day, and most of them contain little in the way of security. Millions and millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices are being added to our homes and to our cars. Our connected homes may offer a convenience to us, the consumers, but more importantly, they offer huge value to the bad guys.
The bottom line is, always be vigilant. NEVER give access to anyone or anything that you’re unsure about. Convenience for you might turn into a goldmine for the bad guys, which might then turn into a major headache, identity theft, or worse, for you.
Image Credit: Theatrical poster by Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51229590