New Technologies with Scary Problems

Click here to see the slide showWhen I heard the recent announcement about Wi-Fi Direct, a proposed method to make it possible for Wi-Fi devices to connect to each other seamlessly without the need of access points, I had a common reaction to a new technology: excitement, tinged with fear. The part of me that's a tech enthusiast thought, this could be really cool. Letting Wi-Fi-enabled devices easily connect to each other will ease a lot of connection hassles, and probably kill Bluetooth along the way.

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scary technology
When I heard the recent announcement about Wi-Fi Direct, a proposed method to make it possible for Wi-Fi devices to connect to each other seamlessly without the need of access points, I had a common reaction to a new technology: excitement, tinged with fear.

The part of me that's a tech enthusiast thought, this could be really cool. Letting Wi-Fi-enabled devices easily connect to each other will ease a lot of connection hassles, and probably kill Bluetooth along the way.

But the part of me that tracks security issues was more than a little worried, especially after many proponents were discussing making Wi-Fi Direct connections super easy, even having devices connect automatically with no user intervention. To me, making it that easy is simply an invitation to have your devices taken over by bad guys.

And this got me thinking about other products and technologies, and I realized that this is a very common problem. In many of these technologies, the designers and creators get caught up in the cool new features and capabilities, and it seems like there is no one there to say, whoa, wait a second, enabling that kind of capability without the proper security measures could lead to some pretty scary outcomes, putting people at risk for viruses and worms, data and privacy theft, even risks to their personal safety.

Now I'm not saying that technological progress is bad. In most cases, these technologies are vital and will lead to improvements for everyone. But we do need to see more cases where the makers of these technologies take a step back and realize that if they are connecting sensitive devices and data to the Internet or networks, they need to make sure that these devices are protected from potential security threats.

Just how common are these kind of scary technology features? I was able to pretty easily come up with a list of 10 technologies, and if I had included biotech and medical technologies I could have easily doubled or tripled the list.

So take a look at my list of the Ten Scariest Technology Ideas and let me know which ones you would add or remove from the list.