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Gaze into tech's crystal ball: Futurist Shara Evans talks security

By Sara Barker
Mon 5 Jun 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When it comes to the future of technology, you don’t need to look much further than Shara Evans, who is one of the world’s top female futurists and keynote speakers.

“I spend a lot of my time looking at the latest and greatest that is happening in research labs around the world and also cutting-edge developments that are just coming to market now or in early prototypes.”

Whether that’s robots, nanotechnology or medical technology, or society’s reactions to those technologies, Evans has her finger on the pulse.

Evans also helps specific verticals and industries work out how to apply the latest technology, look ahead to imagine the world in 10-20 years and how they can innovate to capture that change.

Speaking exclusively to SecurityBrief, she explains exactly why technology is about to get a whole not more exciting - and a whole lot more dangerous.

“The one threat that I find in so many cases is that security is an afterthought, privacy is missing and ethics aren’t even thought of. This happens especially in the startup world, where people are just looking to solve problems or do something cool. They’re not security experts,” she says.

“By attaching things to the internet in particular, you end up with potential areas that could lead to vulnerabilities. All you need is one weak link. It’s not just hacking that is the issue, it’s how much information people put about themselves that they have either knowingly or inadvertently put out by using technology through a vendor’s website.”

From an enterprise side, Evans says that the very first thing they need to understand is where technology is going and which of those they might implement in their own organisations, especially if staff are bringing those technologies in through their own initiatives.

“The future is not fixed. There are a range of potential scenarios that can happen based on uptake of technology, technological hurdles being solved, geopolitical factors and climate factors. I look at different scenarios for how things might unfold and look at the way society might change and see where some of the puzzles might be.”

“If somebody has a wearable device and is connecting to their work mobile phone, and there’s malware contained within it, suddenly it’s into a company’s private network because somebody has a device that isn’t secured properly.”

She says that her presentation at the ASIAL Conference will focus on the cutting-edge technologies, where they’re going and what can be hacked and some of the exploits that have happened. We then look at new technologies and how they might open up vulnerabilities for enterprises as well.

“If you think about technologies like drones. They’re getting smaller all the time. The military has surveillance drones the size of an insect. You could have a device like that in your boardroom and you’d never know it.”

She says she will also look at how technology is helping to enhance humans, through the likes of ingestible and implantable technologies that are connected to the internet. What are the implications for businesses when that happens?

“Things that are in the research labs right now are likely to be protecting their business in the mid-term to long-term.”

She comments that internet-connected devices, from drones, to wearables to the humble refrigerator, fire alarm, surveillance camera and temperature monitor, biometric databases - are all connected.

Augmented reality is another growing area, which will evolve from smart glasses to smart contacts, Evans says. On the business side, she says these are prime tools for collaboration, visualisation, GPS signals, visual feedback in industrial projects and much more. What that means though, is that security is imperative.

“In the case of the industrial worker — if somebody hacked that and told workers to turn gauges in the wrong direction, you have a disaster or a terrorist attack because somebody has hacked into an augmented reality string.”

She says the reality is that if there is a backdoor, somebody is going to exploit it. Organisations need to know what what could happen if things go wrong, and what organisations need to do to make sure that they don’t go wrong.

“Once an attack is there, you absolutely cannot control it. There’s a rather naive view that only people with authorisation can get into a backdoor, but that’s just not the case.”

Shara Evans will present at the ASIAL Conference, part of the Security Exhibition & Conference in Sydney that runs from July 26-28.

She will be covering topics as diverse as data security, wearables, health and embedded technology, the Internet of Things, and how they will unfold in the future.

“It’s always interesting to see where the world is going in the future, and that’s what I will be talking about,” she concludes.

What: The Security Exhibition & Conference 2017 When: July 26-28 Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney To find out more and secure tickets, visit http://securityexpo.com.au.

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