Companies Need Naysayers to Point Out Potential Problems

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-02-07 Print this article Print

Opinion: Every company needs someone who is constantly thinking, "What if?"

I was recently very late getting to work, but this time I had a good and unique excuse: I was driving my brand-new Lexus and decided to use the cars navigation system to come up with an alternate route to the office. The next thing I knew, it was many hours later, and I was pulling up to a doughnut shop in Poughkeepsie instead of my office outside of Boston.

OK, Im kidding. The closest Ive ever come to owning a Lexus was my old Toyota Tercel. But the story about the messed-up navigation system isnt that improbable.

According to a recent story, several late-model Lexus vehicles were infected with a virus transmitted via cell phones. And how did these cars get a cell phone virus? As it turns out, the navigation and other systems in these Lexus models were Bluetooth-enabled.

The virus story is more amusing than scary because the worst that could probably happen is that you could end up miles away from your intended destination. (Although, of course, all serious viruses are preceded by a minor irritant of a virus.)

Read more here about Bluetooth car kits. No, the thing that really befuddles me is that someone at Toyota/Lexus, a group that seems to know a thing or two about good design decisions, decided that implementing Bluetooth support in a car was a good idea.

I mean, how does this work? Did someone stand up in a meeting and say, "Hey, Ive got a great idea. Lets add a completely insecure and easily hacked wireless entry into our cars computer systems"? Didnt anyone have the guts to stand up and say, "Excuse me, but are you nuts?"

Next Page: Imagine worst-case scenarios.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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